Thomas Paul Niederkorn
1928 - 2020
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Thomas Paul Niederkorn

Albany - City Planner and Community Arts Leader, Thomas Paul Niederkorn, died Saturday June 6, 2020 in Albany NY. Born August 7, 1928 in Greenville, Ohio to Norbert and Julia (McGreevey) Niederkorn, Tom graduated from Greenville High School and went on to earn degrees in Architecture and City Planning from Miami of Ohio with advanced degrees in Planning and Urban Design from the University of California at Berkeley. He served in the United States Army from 1955-57 in Japan.

Tom's life in Ithaca began in 1957 when the Greater Ithaca Regional Planning Board, organized by community leaders from the City and Town of Ithaca, Cayuga Heights and Lansing, brought Tom to town as resident planner on loan from the New Jersey consulting firm Community Planning Associates to develop a plan for the Ithaca Urban Area.

When the Plan was completed in 1959, Tom went off to Europe for a year but was recruited back to become Planning Director for the City in the early '60s where he served until forming Egner and Niederkorn Associates in 1966 with Anton Egner, Cornell Campus Planner and Architect. In the 70's he founded Planning Environmental Research Associates which he headed until retiring in 2008.

The next phase of Tom's life was to resound with great benefits to the community, beginning in 1967 with securing the funding for complete redesign and development of the Cass Park complex into a major regional recreation and cultural facility. A principal feature of the complex was the concrete block building that had been the old Ithaca Airport, a Depression-era public works project dedicated in 1934 and eventually used extensively in WWII as a pilot training base. Tom saw the opportunity presented by the abandoned building and it was there that the Center for the Arts/Hangar Theatre was born.

Veterans of the long slow fight to create a professional theater in the park acknowledged Tom's contribution by formally dedicating the main stage in the totally renovated building the "Niederkorn Stage." Today, the Hangar Theatre and surrounding parkland stands as a tribute to Tom's drive and leadership that convinced others to see what was possible and to surmount numerous obstacles over the years. He was also named Champion of the Arts by the Community Arts Partnership which he helped found.

Tom served the community in other ways - as a member of the Ithaca Town Board 2000-04 and as Vice Chair of the Tompkins County Democratic Party for many years. In 2001, he was recognized for his contributions to the planning profession by induction into the AICP College of Fellows, the highest honor the American Institute of Certified Planners bestows upon a member.

Predeceased by sister Mary Jane Fridge, survivors include sister Elizabeth Milliman, longtime companion and friend Barbara Blanchard, and many nieces, nephews and cousins. In noting his passing, one cousin observed "He was one of the few men who could wear an ascot and not look pretentious."

Services are delayed until future notice. Remembrances may be made to The Hangar Theater, P.O. Box 205, Ithaca, NY. Online condolences may be expressed at

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Published in Ithaca Journal from Jun. 9 to Jun. 10, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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5 entries
June 15, 2020
The Parkes family conveys its condolences for Tom's passing. My dad, Jim Parkes, met Tom while working as a planning intern in the City of Ithaca Planning Office. Being about the same ages, and both having insightful senses of humor, Dad and Tom quickly formed a close, lifelong friendship that Tom extended to my mother, as well as me and my sister. During my graduate studies in Park Planning, I enjoyed many talks with Tom about what I was learning in school, plus hearing about his own experiences. He also provided me an example that I still follow of the joys and rewards of professional volunteer service to our local communities.
Kevin Parkes
June 12, 2020
Our condolences on Tom's passing always enjoyed visiting with him at family gatherings . Drew and Nancy Preston
nancy a gallagher-preston
June 12, 2020
Tom will be remembered as a quiet community organizer who, through thoughtful persuasion, helped Ithaca define itself as a place of progressive compassion and forward thinking. His leadership, focus, gentle manner and willingness to keep the faith benefitted our community in important and often unsung ways. That is the way he wanted it.
Rich and Lisa Farr
June 11, 2020
Barbara, we are saddened by the loss of Tom. He was an inspiration to me and an all round good guy. I learned alot from you two over the decades. Much Love and many Blessing , Mike Thuesen
Michael W Thuesen
June 10, 2020
Tom was a visionary and great supporter of the arts and our community. It was a privilege to know someone who dreamed big. His enthusiasm was energizing. He will be missed.

David Feldshuh and Martha Frommelt
David Feldshuh
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