MURRAY HILL — Longtime Community Board 6 member and local Democratic political activist Charles Buchwald died on Dec. 3 at the age of 80, after a long life dedicated to his family and his community, according to colleagues.
Buchwald was born in Brooklyn in 1935 and was enthusiastic about politics from an early age, supporting Franklin D. Roosevelt at 5 years old. As a young man, he spent a summer pedaling around the borough in a Good Humor uniform selling ice cream.
He got his undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota, then went on to serve in Korea alongside his brother, eventually making it back to the East Coast to get his doctorate in psychology at Yale. He returned to his homeland of Brooklyn to raise his sons David and Adam, and to work at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. His work at SUNY Downstate included training physicians in treating patients with drug and alcohol dependencies.
He eventually made the trip across the East River to Murray Hill, where he became tirelessly involved in local politics and civic work, serving as the elected Democratic District Leader for the 74th Assembly District for more than a decade and taking an active role in the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club.
He worked in professional and volunteer roles up until his death, according to Community Board 6 Chairman Rick Eggers, who worked closely with Buchwald and lived in the same building.
“Retirement was never an option for Charles,” Eggers said. “In fact a full-time job was never enough for Charles.”
Buchwald joined CB6 in 2000, and in his time on the board he served in a variety of leadership roles, including vice chairman and treasurer, and helped recruit “countless” people to the board and other roles in civic life, according to Eggers, who described him as an adviser, a mentor, a confidante and a friend.
“He had the uncanny ability to reel people in to do community service and engage in political process,” Eggers said. “I can count at least five current board members and a few who are no longer on the board who owe their membership in one way or another to Charles.”
Buchwald was the loving husband of Debby Blank, and among all of his accomplishments Buchwald was most proud of being a grandfather, Eggers said.
He leaves behind his wife, two sons, two stepchildren, several grandchildren and several siblings.