Seymour W. Liebmann: Our Neighborhood
Association’s First President
Our neighborhood had the good fortune in 1968 to have Colonel Seymour Liebmann, his lovely wife, Hinda, and their sons, Peter and David, choose Rilman Drive as their place to live.
Sy, as he was affectionately known by all, was always, at heart, a farmer. He grew up in upstate New York in the Hudson Valley on his family’s farm where they grew apples and livestock. Sy’s older brother Mel later ran an Army-Navy store for more than 50 years that still serves the community.
After earning his degree in mechanical engineering, Sy joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, retiring with the rank of Colonel. In the Corps, he handled logistics of the Berlin Airlift, and later served as a military engineer in Korea during the Korean War. In Atlanta, Sy would go on to become president of a large construction company, A.R. Abrams, and form a very successful engineering consulting practice, Liebmann Associates.
Shortly after he, Hinda and the boys moved to Rilman Drive, Sy became involved in the community. He became Chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit A (“NPU-A”) which reviews the planning and zoning matters for Western Buckhead, including the Nancy Creek area. Sy helped to organize the West Paces/Northside Neighborhood Association, and served as its first President. Sy also volunteered in community organizations, including one of his favorites, the Boy Scouts of America. A favorite weekend activity was to organize a fishing trip to Unicoi State Park or a hike on the Appalachian Trail.
Sy was an early advocate of neighborhood preservation in the 1970s when Atlanta was undergoing a huge transformation into a regional center, its zoning laws were an afterthought, and the Atlanta mascot was a bulldozer.
He was known for his intellect, his keen organizational abilities, his total selflessness in giving of his time to the neighborhood, and his brilliant critique of proposed development. If it were not for Sy’s relentless hard work, the development along West Paces Ferry Road and Northside Parkway would today be much like that on Peachtree and Lenox Roads.
As Chair of NPU-A, Sy’s leadership in establishing a citizen review procedure for proposed zoning changes and other community issues soon made NPU-A the standard that not only other Atlanta NPUs, but other cities around the country sought to emulate. NPU-A applicants knew that when they appeared before the board under Sy’s leadership they would face rigorous examination of their proposals. Sy often surprised applicants by recalculating their engineering proposals on the spot as they presented their proposals.
For our neighborhood, Sy was a great organizer of our opposition to many shoddy, ill-conceived proposed developments. We will not soon forget the time that Sy lead a turnout of well over 1,000 neighbors to attend a NPU-A meeting at Trinity Church to voice opposition to a proposed development on Northside Parkway.
On November 14, 2015, our community suffered a great loss when Sy passed away. Sy will long be remembered as a great leader who, while conducting himself as a gentleman, was quick to stand-up for our neighborhoods as our strongest advocate.
Perhaps Sy’s greatest contribution to the City of Atlanta was his leadership and training of others on how to make positive impact, and in particular, his strong moral compass of always stressing right from wrong, and looking far down the road to the consequences of actions that we take today.
Services for Colonel Liebmann will held at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, in March. He will receive full military honors, with a caisson, military band, troops, with a rabbi conducting his funeral ceremony.
Mr. James Nobles, JD
Mr. Henry Feinstein, JD
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