Boerum Hill

OBIT: Marian Wood Meyer, an ‘institution’ at Brooklyn 33rd Council District, dies at 74

September 14, 2018 Compiled by Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Marian Wood Meyer, the long-time public face of Brooklyn’s 33rd Council District, died on Thursday, Sept. 13. Photo courtesy of Sidney Meyer

Mainstay of Three Councilmembers

The long-time public face of Brooklyn’s 33rd Council District, Marian Wood Meyer, died on Thursday, Sept. 13 at Brooklyn Hospital. She was 74 and was known to those who worked with her as Marian Wood.

Wood served in roles including constituent aide and district director for three different City Councilmembers: current Councilmember Stephen Levin, his predecessor David Yassky, and Yassky’s predecessor Kenneth Fisher.

She was married to Sidney L. Meyer for 42 years, and they have lived almost that entire time in their house in Boerum Hill.

Her presence served as a mainstay throughout years of rapid change for District 33, which stretches from Greenpoint through Brooklyn Heights to Boerum Hill. She brought institutional continuity to the office and was beloved by several generations of those involved in local issues.

“Marian was a treasure. She was as dedicated to her community of Brownstone Brooklyn as much as anyone I know,” Yassky said. “She helped thousands of Brooklynites fix problems with a city agency — whether it was getting the Sanitation Department to look for and find a wedding ring that someone had accidentally thrown out (yes, a true story!) or getting a permit unstuck from the Buildings Department — she helped tens of thousands, really, with things like getting the Parks Department to repair playground equipment or getting the DOT to put up a stop sign.”

Yasky added, “Marian was a riot to work with. Marian had high standards, and she always told you what she thought, whether it was praise or not so much — if Marian thought you did something great, she said so, and if she thought you did something stupid, she told you that, too — but nobody could hold it against her, because she had such a good heart, and she held herself to the same high standards. I traded emails with another coworker this morning, Mary Lou Bradley, who wrote that Marian was ‘a beautiful person’ — that nails it.”

Brooklyn ‘A Different Place’ in the 1990s

“I had known Marian’s husband, Sid, from before I was elected and I realized at some point that her background as a social worker would be invaluable for individual constituent problems,” Fisher told the Eagle. “Being a long time Boerum Hill resident, she soon expanded her portfolio to include the brownstone neighborhoods, from big issues like traffic to conditions that affected only one block. She worked closely with the neighborhood associations, the community boards, NYPD and the other elected officials from the area.”

Fisher added, “The city was a very different place in the early 1990s and every day was a struggle to keep people from abandoning our brownstone neighborhoods because of crime, schools and quality of life issues. Marian was determined to help anyone who asked and her tenaciousness in getting agencies to do their jobs made all the difference for those she helped.”

‘An Institution’

“Marian Wood Meyer brought equal parts joy, diligence, political know-how, humor, and compassion to every issue she worked on for the 33rd District,” Levin said. “As part of the 33rd District team for three successive council members, Marian was an institution.  We love her, we thank her for all of her contributions to the public good over her entire career, and we will miss her very much.”

Wood also volunteered at the office of Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.

“Marian was a dear friend. I worked on a lot of community issues with her over the years … We all loved having her in the office,” Simon said. Simon said that Wood had developed pneumonia. “I visited her [at the hospital] on Sunday and she was cracking wise as usual.”

“I knew her and loved her,” said Judy Stanton, former executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, who worked with Wood starting back during Fisher’s time as councilmember. Wood was “dedicated to that work, a professional, great with people,” Stanton said, adding she was “really smart, really funny” and lovable.

Wood had one son and five grandchildren. “She adored those kids,” Stanton said.

Susan Wolfe, former president of the Boerum Hill Association, said, “Marian was a great friend to many Boerum Hillers. She had a great sense of humor and [was] a wonderful wife to Sid and a loving grandmother. She made politics fun!”

Wood remained dedicated to improving the district even after falling ill. She and her husband took a bus trip to Albany with other volunteers in March to help lobby for the use of the Design Build process for the renovation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE). She was on oxygen and in a wheelchair at that time.

Born in Texas

Wood met her husband Meyer when she was a psychiatric social worker at Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, formerly known as the Brooklyn State Hospital. Meyer was the personnel officer there.

She was born in Galveston, Texas, on July 18, 1944. Her father, Donald A. Wood, was stationed there with the United States Army. Her mother Betty Jo (née Brandon) had also worked for the army as a nurse but was discharged when she became pregnant with Marian. Wood’s father was a veterinarian in Fredonia, New York, where she grew up. Her maternal grandparents were pioneers who came to Lawton in a covered wagon.

She received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and earned a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University.

Wood is survived by her husband Sidney Meyer, her son Michael Wood Meyer and five grandchildren; Ryan, age 11, Alexavier, age 9, Jaxon, age 4 (almost 5), Nate, age 5 and Leo, age 2.

There will be a memorial service at Plymouth Church, 75 Hicks Street, Brooklyn Heights, on Sunday, Sept. 23, at 4 p.m.