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Eric Van Cortlandt Stevenson

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Bethesda, Md. - Eric Van Cortlandt Stevenson of Bethesda, Md., a former Stonington resident, died on Jan. 31, 2013.

Mr. Stevenson's long and wide-ranging career included positions in real estate financing, labor relations, research and policy analysis on international affairs and fair housing, and the practice of law. He retired in 2010, at the age of 83, as deputy director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Multifamily Development, which insures loans on apartment buildings and health care facilities nationwide.

Mr. Stevenson was born on June 27, 1926, in New York City, to the former Winifred Worcester and Harvey Stevenson, a noted architect, and grew up in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., and Old Black Point, Conn. His favorite pastime was tennis, which he played skillfully into his eighties. He graduated from Millbrook School in Millbrook, N.Y., Yale University, and Yale Law School. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946, and as a reservist was recalled into service during the Korean War at the rank of lieutenant. He began his legal career with the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, and later served as special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Labor Relations. After the Korean War, he moved to Hartford, married, and engaged in the general practice of law with the firm of Sussler & Stevenson in Stonington. In 1960, he ran as a Democratic candidate for state representative and was narrowly defeated.

Spurred by JFK's victory in the presidential election, Mr. Stevenson in 1961 took his young family to Washington (though they kept their Stonington house until 1979), researching arms control issues at the Institute for Defense Analyses and ultimately directing a classified study evaluating the United States-Soviet Union Exchanges Program for the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. In 1966, he was selected to be general counsel of the Peace Corps, serving in that capacity for three years. He then directed a study for the Ford Foundation on racial integration and fair housing. On the strength of this work, Mr. Stevenson became director of Urban Affairs at the Life Insurance Association of America (later the American Life Insurance Association) and administered a two billion dollar urban investment program to benefit low-income families. In 1973, Stevenson joined Sonnenblick-Goldman Corp. as a mortgage broker, later moving on to The Boykin Corp. He also directed a study on the use of surplus schools in Washington, D.C., for the Cafritz Foundation and the Academy for Educational Development. In 1982, Mr. Stevenson became senior vice president for Commercial Real Estate of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, overseeing programs and editing a textbook on financing income-producing properties, and specializing in the growing field of commercial mortgage securitization. In 1992, he became director of Housing at St. Elizabeth's, the District of Columbia's hospital for the mentally ill. In 1995, he joined HUD, where he remained for the rest of his career.

Surviving Mr. Stevenson are his beloved wife of 57 years, Judith Herrick Stevenson, and five children, six grandchildren, and a step-grandchild, including Jonathan Stevenson and his wife, Sharon Butler, and her daughter, Lena Curland of New York, N.Y., and Mystic, Michael Kirkham Stevenson and his wife, Karen, and their children, Andrea, Eric, Charlotte, and Colin of Algonquin, Ill., Anne Stevenson-Yang and her husband, Yang Zhifang, and their children, Samuel and Lucy of Beijing, China and New York, N.Y., Margaret Stevenson of Cambridge, Mass., and Philip Stevenson of Chestertown, Md. Mr. Stevenson also leaves a brother, author, and cartoonist James Stevenson and his wife, Josephine Merck, of Cos Cob, along with nine nephews and nieces.

Throughout his adult life, Mr. Stevenson championed liberal causes and contributed his services to charitable organizations, which he strongly believed in supporting. On a volunteer basis, he served on the board and later as board chairman of Woodley House, a private non-profit providing housing and services for the mentally ill, and was named the organization's Person of the Year during the 1980s. He was also a volunteer attorney for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and a director of Cornerstone, a non-profit that arranges housing for the homeless and mentally ill. His concerns were always for others rather than for himself. Donations in his name may be sent to one of these organizations or to a .

He will be buried privately at Eight Mile River Cemetery, Lyme.
Published in The Day on Feb. 3, 2013
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