LOW--Robert Allen, former New York City Council member and mayoral candidate, died in San Francisco on January 3, 2014 at the age of 94. Bob Low was born in Scarsdale, NY on June 6, 1919 and raised in New York City. He and his siblings, Stuart and Doris, were the children of Clarence Low, former Treasurer of the Democratic State Committee, and Madeleine Low (nee Mayer), daughter of Levy Mayer, one of America's most distinguished lawyers of the early twentieth century and co-founder of the global law firm Mayer Brown LLP. Bob attended Collegiate School and Choate. He was the youngest tennis player ever to compete in a National Tournament at the age of nine, as a teenager won numerous titles and captained the men's varsity tennis team at Stanford University. The day after his graduation from Stanford in 1941, Bob entered the US Navy and served in the Pacific during World War II. He became one of the youngest Lieutenant Commanders ever and won nine battle stars during his service, fighting at Iwo Jima, Midway and Okinawa. After the war, Bob moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked at the Saturday Review Magazine and graduated from George Washington University Law School. Public service was deeply ingrained in Bob and guided his professional life. He served in the State Department and worked for Senators Herbert Lehman and Henry "Scoop" Jackson (a lifelong friend and mentor), handling congressional relations. In 1952 he met Frances Delia Levison, one of the first female reporters for Time-Life Magazine, and they were married for 60 years until her death in 2012. Bob would often say that she was "the most remarkable woman I ever knew". In 1954 the couple moved back to New York City where Bob was appointed assistant to Mayor Robert Wagner. In 1961, Bob was elected to the New York City Council where he served two terms, representing the "Silk Stockings" District of Manhattan's Upper East Side, East Harlem and Yorkville--a true cross section of upper, lower and middle income families. He co-authored one of the first anti-pollution laws in the United States. Bob was subsequently featured in a New York Times article entitled "Pollution's Nemesis", detailing his critical role in the fight for clean air, which eventually led to the federal Clean Air Act. Bob was also chairman of New York City's Buildings Committee oversaw the first major revision of the building code controlling construction in almost seventy years. Bob disguised himself as a struggling writer and moved into a slum in East Harlem for a week to experience first-hand the living conditions. On another occasion, he moonlighted as a taxi driver to understand their challenges and advocated for higher wages. He studied Spanish in order to communicate and connect with the growing Puerto Rican population. In 1969 he entered the New York City race for mayor and president of city council and, although the campaigns were unsuccessful, he proved to be a progressive and political maverick. In the 1970's Bob was appointed Regional Administrator for the Environmental Protection Administration and then Regional Representative for the U.S. Department of Energy, overseeing the growth and development of the New York City water system, and policing air pollution laws, waste water and nuclear waste in the region. In 1980, Bob returned to civilian life and a small private law practice. Bob and Frances pursued their passion for people, food and wine, founding "Le Cercle de Gastronomes", a precursor to contemporary "pop-up" restaurants, at their house in Dutchess County, where Bob served French haute-cuisine paired with fine wines. He was a food critic and an editor for the French restaurant guidebook "Gault et Millau". In 2002, he and Frances moved to San Francisco to be with their sons and grandchildren. Bob is survived by his brother, Stuart, as well as his sons, Allen and Roger, six grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. "The Low Family asks that donations be made to The East Harlem School, an organization close to the Family's heart that serves low income students in New York City." A gathering of friends and family to celebrate Bob's life will be held at a later date.
Published in New York Times on Feb. 23, 2014.