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Classic snaps of Doris Diether, iconic Greenwich Village activist

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | At this time of year, a few hundred people would usually be getting a holiday greeting card in the  mail from Doris Diether, the legendary Greenwich Village activist and Community Board 2 member.

Always included inside the card was a typewritten recipe on a little clipped-out square of white paper. Last year’s was “Oven-fried Chicken” (ingredients: margarine, Bisquick baking mix, paprika, salt, pepper and broiler-fryer chicken, cut-up).

A fashionable, young Doris Diether.

Sadly, this holiday season there are no cards from Diether, who died Sept. 16 at age 92.

Diether was an ally of Jane Jacobs, fighting to save Greenwich Village from Robert Moses’ “urban renewal” and Lower Manhattan Expressway projects that would have destroyed the historic neighborhood. This was back in the days before principled community activism had been smeared as “anti-progress” and NIMBYism, as it is today in some quarters.

Diether, who became a self-taught zoning maven, was the city’s longest-serving community board member. Thanks to recently imposed term limits, her record will forever stand.

Doris Diether enjoying a book.

In lieu of one of Doris’s holiday greeting cards, here are some photos — assembled by her friend Hellen Osgood — that were on display at Doris’s memorial in Washington Square Park in October. It seemed like a good time to run them in the newspaper.

Taking a break from reading.
Baby Doris.
Doris Diether at her confirmation.
Another graduation photo.

Reading.
On the waterfront.

Wearing an Easter hat in 1951.
Doris Diether, then still known as Doris Thomas, and her future husband, Jack Diether, vending on Sixth Avenue in the Village. According to Doris’s friend Hellen Osgood, this is how the two met.
Happy day! Doris, then 29, marries Jack. Jack was a music critic and expert on Gustav Mahler, whose work he promoted.
Halloween with “Roman” and “Autumn.”
Doris Diether on vacation.
Doris and Jack.
Doris Diether by the Washington Square Arch when city buses still used the park as a turnaround. With Jane Jacobs and the group Save the Village, Diether fought Robert Moses’ plan to run a street all the way through the park. Where LaGuardia Place is today was to be redubbed Lower Fifth Avenue, intended to make it a more prestigious address.
Diether in November 1961 with the album from the Off-Broadway musical “Greenwich Village, USA.” The show featured such numbers as “Baby, You Bore Me,” “Birth of a Beatnik,” “Espresso House,” “Save the Village” and “What Do They Know About Love Uptown?”
Doris and Jack at Thanksgiving in 1971.
Doris on a rope bridge on a vacation.
A collection of Doris’s recipes that she sent out with her holiday greeting cards over the years.
Doris Diether on Eighth Street in later years.

4 Comments

  1. ------m ------m December 25, 2021

    Our beautiful friend — forever!!

  2. Jo Jo December 25, 2021

    How great! Whoever put this together with captions & all – Thank you! I wish I’d known her for much longer and much better. What a wonderful and dedicated soul.

  3. Ken Wallach St. Petersburg, Florida Ken Wallach St. Petersburg, Florida December 27, 2021

    This photo collection only adds joy to our memories of Doris.
    She was truly the kind of person that we rarely see anymore.
    She respected the individual qualities and backgrounds of all those she counted as friends. She was her unique self to her last days. She was immune to the effects of caffeine and hated taking medications. She and I laughed together over dessert following community board meetings.
    I accompanied her to parties and public events. Since 1977, we always enjoyed each other’s company. I along with so many who spoke on October 23 in Washington Square Park truly loved her. We should honor her forever in our own lives. Really, how could we do any less.

  4. JS JS December 30, 2021

    This is a wonderful compendium of photographs to honor Doris’s life and all she did for our community.

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