Printer Friendly

Pat Healy dead at 81; led NLC for 18 years.

Pat Healy, a versatile state league organizer and a skillful proponent of national policies to strengthen America's cities and towns, died last week at the age of 81. He served as NLC executive director for 18 years, from 1954 to 1972, when he retired to devote more time to fostering international municipal cooperation.

In remembrance of his leadership and vision, a moment of silence will be observed during the Priorities General Session at the Congress of Cities, Monday, March 9, 1992.

Healy became executive vice president of NLC when the League was still called the American Municipal Association, with headquarters in Chicago and a staff of eight. He organized the headquarters move to Washington later this year, steadily expanding the organization's mission and staff. The AMA became the National League of Cities in 1964.

His involvement with cities and local government began in 1933, when fresh out of the Maxwell School of Public Administration at Syracuse University, he went to work as a field consultant for the Virginia Municipal League. His job was to assist cities and towns in administering the newly federal public works and relief programs of the New Deal in the Great Depression.

His talent and skills took him to North Carolina in a matter of months to organize the communities of that state into a municipal league and serve as its first executive director. Before entering military service in World War II, Healy assisted in organizing other southern state municipal leagues, including those in South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. He was also elected to the executive committee of AMA.

"Pat Healy was a master builder of American municipal government and a creative force whose contributions to our nation's cities and towns simply cannot be overstated," said NLC Executive Director Don Borut. "His years with the state leagues marked an awakening of local government in the South, and his stewardship at NLC coincided with a truly extraordinary period of urban growth and national policy initiatives affecting cities."

NLC President Glenda Hood recalled meeting Healy at several NLC meetings, which he continued to attend for many years. "One of my first interests in NLC was promoting international relationships, since I had found so many opportunities and rewards in those effect efforts myself. It was astounding to learn how he had been in on the start and helped lay the groundwork for so much of what's happening now," she said.

"It would be impossible to find someone who could have done the job better," said Alan Beals, former NLC executive director. Beals, whose work with Healy at NLC began in 1955, recalled Healy's role as a coalition builder and largely unseen organizer of support for some of the landmark legislation and administrative actions of the 1950s and 1960s.

"Pat was part of the coalition that came together to push through the Interstate Highway Act, which revolutionized our surface transportation system," Beals said. "A decade later he was orchestrating support for the Urban Mass Transit Act."

The Advisory Commission on Inter-governmental Relations, established by Congress in 1959, was probably the most visible and enduring initiative to gain enactment directly through efforts inspired and led by Healy.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, created in 1965, and the Department of Transportation, created in 1966, both came into existence embodying concepts and missions nurtured by Healy and advocated by the NLC leadership and members.

Healy was a Republican who once presided at a 1950 county Republican meeting whose featured speaker was Rep. Richard Nixon of California. Following Nixon's presidential victory in 1968, Healy was widely mentioned as a candidate for the post of HUD Secretary, but it wound up going to Gov. George Romney of Michigan.

Romney was among those who wrote to Healy at the time of his retirement, saying, "During the many years you guided the National League of Cities, you never threw up your hands in resignation or defeat. Instead, you contributed to the development of tools that some day may enable us to solve the broad and complex problems of our cities."

Model Cities was one such program. It grew out of an initiative conceived by Mayor Jerome Cavenaugh of Detroit, NLC president in 1966. The Urban Observatories project was another such concept, brought forward by Mayor Henry Maier of Milwaukee, NLC president in 1964.

Other leading mayors who served as NLC president during Healy's years included Robert Wagner of New York, George Christopher of San Francisco, Anthony Celebrezze of Cleveland, Lewis Cutrer of Houston, John Collins of Boston, Richardson Dilworth and James Tate of Philadelphia, Frank Curran of San Diego and Richard Lugar of Indianapolis.

Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles, who served as NLC president in 1974, remembered Healy's leadership as "an inspiration that gave strength and purpose to much of our work in a changing and often turbulent time for America's cities."

NLC was a sponsoring organization in the creation of the Urban Coalition in 1967. Healy urged the fledgling organization to develop a grassroots network "in every urban center in the country, dedicated to the same commitments" to provide jobs, housing, education and the other needs of cities, as called for by the Coalition in its convocation meeting.

When the Kerner Commission report on civil disorders came out in 1968, Healy described its message as "trying to wake up millions of white Americans to the need for a personal reappraisal of each citizen's responsibility for individual action to ease these frustrations.

"The price of failure is urban disaster," he said. "Many of the solutions to the conditions and problems identified by the commission are beyond any conceivable control by local government and can only be achieved through a total national commitment," he noted. Even so, he added, "If ever there was a time for inspired leadership on the part of the full range of a municipality's staff, this is it."

Healy also was a guiding force in the creation of Sister Cities International in 1967, serving as one of the incorporators and an original member of its board of directors. Like NLC, Sister Cities has enlisted an energetic and diverse membership of both large and small communities. Its members have created linkages with other municipalities all over the world.

Upon retiring from NLC, Healy embarked on a project that became an enduring record of the events, decisions and processes that defined the urbanization of America in the 20th century. That project was a book, The Nation's Cities: Change and Challenge, published in 1974 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of NLC's founding as the American Municipal Association.

He said the most important message conveyed by the book is the "enormous municipal capacity for change. They (cities) reveal a strong responsiveness to waves of reform. But they also show a steady, encouraging incremental adjustment to adversity as well as prosperity."

He concluded the book with a summary of what would enable America's cities to surmount the tasks the continue to confront them, and his prescription remains as valid today as then. Adequate resources, adequate authority, support from the community and other levels of government, understanding of the role of cities in economic and social activity, and commitment to build and maintain cities as the embodiment of the "good life" in America.

Patrick Healy III was born in Los Angeles in 1910 and grew up in Utah and Wyoming, where his father was a rancher. He graduated from Amherst College and did postgraduate work in public administration at Syracuse University. He also was an avid musician and while in college organized and led his own band.

During World Ward II, Healy served in the Navy, first on the staff of Gen. Lewis Hershey in the national headquarters of the Selective Service, and then at sea duty in the Pacific on two ships, as a gunnery officer and an executive officer.

Following the war, Healy returned to Utah where he went into the soft drink bottling business and helped manage several family enterprises. He was appointed chairman of the Utah State Tax Commission in 1950 and held that post until he was selected to succeed Carl H. Chatters as AMA's executive vice president in 1954.

Healy received honorary degrees from Amherst College and Syracuse University, and he served on numerous national boards and commissions. Among those were the President's National Advisory Council on Extension and Continuing Education, the Executive Committee of the President's Committee on the Handicapped, the Census Advisory Committee on State and Local Government Statistics, the Urban Transportation Section of the National Academy of Sciences, Board of Trustees of the Public Administration Service, Executive Committee or the Inter-American Municipal Organization, and Chairman of the U.S. Section of the International Union of Local Authorities. He was a U.S. delegate to 14 international municipal congresses in Europe, Africa and Latin America.

In what could be described as an "O. Henry" footnote to his extraordinary career, Healy's one measurable defeat may have been his loss as a candidate for mayor in Ogden, Utah in 1947.

Healy married Martha Ann (Markey) Dumke of Ogden, Utah after the death of his first wife, Ruth Snagg Healy in 1954. They lived in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, and their family includes three children and six grandchildren.

The family requests that any memorial contributions be made to Traveler's Aid, Attn: Mrs. Pauline Dunn, 512 P Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20002.
COPYRIGHT 1992 National League of Cities
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:National League of Cities
Author:Arndt, Randy
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Mar 9, 1992
Previous Article:Ambassadors to lead cities through moral, political South Africa dilemmas.
Next Article:Report finds city-suburb income gap means low growth for metro areas.

Related Articles
NLC officers for the year 1992.
A message from the Strategic Planning Committee.
Stronger, Bolder and Unified: Cities Poised To Enter New Era.
About the Survey.
Cities and NLC: United, Strong, and Prepared for the Future.
Cork: Call's number taken.
NLC's TEA 21 Priorities Advanced at Discussion.
Anderson Announces NLC 2002 Appointment Process.
Jeff Fletcher to bid NLC farewell after 32 years.
San Jose's Dando named California director of Local Government Affairs.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters