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Richard Seeler, 84, dies; renowned in industry.

Richard W. Seeler, a renowned New York City real estate broker, honorary vice chairman of Grubb & Ellis New York, Inc., and former chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York, died at Long Island Jewish Hospital on Thursday after a long battle with cancer. He was 84.

A commercial broker involved in many of New York's largest real estate transactions, he spent most of his career at Cross & Brown Company where he served as president until 1991. Known for his integrity and leadership, he was a two-time recipient of REBNY's

"Most Ingenious Deal of the Year" award. The first award come in 1975 for the sale of Two Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to the Government of Jamaica, and the second in 1986 for the sale of Saks Fifth Avenue's office tower leasehold to the Swiss Bank Corporation. Elected lifetime governor of REBNY, Seeler was involved in scores of office and retail deals throughout his distinguished career and has been responsible for the leasing of more than 30 million SF of space and the sale of more than 65 properties.

At the time of his death, Seeler was a broker at Grubb & Ellis, arriving for work nearly every morning until just before his passing.

"He was a great gentleman," said long-time colleague Donald Trump, "and a wonderful real estate person--a professional in every way. He will be missed."

Developer and owner Norman F. Levy said he was "deeply saddened" by the loss of Seeler.

I consider myself honored and fortunate to have been his close friend and associate for 45 years of my real estate career," be added.

"What always struck me about Richard was that he was a man of great ethics and integrity," said Elizabeth Stribling, member of the REBNY board of governors and owner of Stribling & Associates."

"I doubt you'll hear anyone say a bad word about Dick," said Ken Patton, dean of NYU's Real Estate Institute, who shared a decades-long friendship with Seeler.

"Not too many people can go through life with that kind of reputation, but he brought a spirit of cooperation and fairness to everything he did.

One way Seeler brought people together was in the 1970s, when Patton was the deputy mayor of economic development for New York City. The National Association of Realtors had come to town, and one of the members had the unfortunate luck to get robbed during his visit. NAR then passed a resolution saying they'd never come to New York again. Seeler then convinced Patton and Bob Tisch, the chairman of Convention and Visitors Bureau, to accompany him to every convention NAR had, where he pleaded his case for why they should give New York a second chance. Finally, after 10 years, they did.

A graduate of St. Lawrence University, Seeler held the National Association of Realtors CCIM and Society of Industrial and Office Realtors designations. He served as the director of the Fifth Avenue Association, the Emigrant Savings Bank, and the Home Life Insurance Company. He held an advisory council seat on the Phoenix Life Company board of directors for many years and served as a member of the advisory committee to the Secretary of State of New York.

A captain in the United States Army during World War II, Seeler was very active in his community. He was a past president of both the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation and the Cherry Valley Country Club, a former chairman of the New York Board of Trade, and a leader in the Greater New York Council of Boy Scouts.

He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Elizabeth Pretlow Seeler; his two daughters, Anne Carter Seeler and Evelyn Seeler McKay; a son-in-law, John McKay; and two grandchildren, Jack and Elizabeth McKay.

The memorial service was held on Thursday, August 14th at the Church-in-the-Gardens in Forest Hills Gardens. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Richard W. Seeler Memorial Music Fund at The Church-in-the-Gardens, 50 Ascan Avenue, Forest Hills, N.Y., 11375.
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Title Annotation:Grubb & Ellis New York Inc.
Author:Mollotov, Sabina
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 20, 2003
Words:665
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