White Plains lost one of its most respected residents Saturday morning with the passing of former Mayor Sy J. Schulman. Schulman was 86 years old. He died from complications of pancreatic cancer.
Born in Brooklyn to Elias Schulman and Sara Freed in 1926, Schulman was educated in Stuyvesant High School and served in the United States Navy, based in Panama, from 1944 to 1946. After the war, he was graduated from Cooper Union and, during his brief career as a civil engineer, he worked for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation designing housing for the workers at Parker Dam in Arizona. He returned to New York and earned a graduate degree in City Planning at Columbia University and began his second life’ s work as a planner for the New York City Department of Planning, involved with school planning.
Moving to Westchester County, Schulman became chief planner and later Planning Commissioner of the county from 1962 to 1968. He was general manager of the New York State Park Commission, then executive officer of the Urban Development Corporation and in 1973, founded the Westchester County Association, over which he presided for almost 20 years. Throughout his life Schulman brushed shoulders with the movers and shakers of New York State government.
Upon his retirement, Schulman was persuaded to use his expertise to help the City of White Plains, and was elected first to the Common Council and later served as mayor of the City of White Plains from 1994 to 1997.
Schulman appreciated the balancing act of White Plains as a dynamic city serving the business, retail and government hub of Westchester County, while preserving its small-town suburban neighborhoods. He oversaw the development of the city’s comprehensive plan and was mayor when the Westchester mall opened its doors in 1997. He is remembered by colleagues as a first-class individual and elected official who understood the big picture and who cared deeply about the people of White Plains and Westchester, and showed it best in his careful planning that affected lives in a practical way. Family and friends knew a deeper side of the man who they said was fiercely intelligent and brutally honest, but at the same time modest, loving and loyal.
He had, over the years, taught Planning and Planning Law as adjunct professor at City College, Columbia University, Pace University and Pratt Institute.
Schulman is survived by his wife of 64 years, Rosalind Jordan and his sons Ethan and Dan, their wives Tammy and Leslie and their daughters, his beloved granddaughters, Markita and Juliet. He and his wife were devoted members of the Reconstructionist synagogue Bet Am Shalom, in White Plains, where a funeral service was held for him on Monday.