Founder of Garden Walk Buffalo dies

Marvin Lunenfeld, died Wednesday, November 28, 2012 in Port St. Lucie, FL, after a long illness. He was 78. 

He and wife Gail McCarthy are both credited with Garden Walk Buffalo's inception and achievements in turning around neighborhoods on Buffalo's West Side, contributing to the city's ever-happening renaissance, helping to change Buffalo's image forever -- all while making the city a more beautiful place to live.

Buffalo is indebted to Marvin for starting a 1995 block club garden tour that turned into the best, and largest, event of its kind in the country -- now drawing tens of thousands of tourists from around the country.

An outgrowth of the popular Garden Walk Buffalo was Buffalo's National Garden Festival which markets together all horticultural assets in the Buffalo Niagara region as well as organizing other garden-related tours and events. Marvin's concept has led to a genuine tourist industry Buffalo leaders could not have foreseen.

In addition, many garden tours around the country were inspired and encouraged by Garden Walk Buffalo -- including tours in Cleveland, New Jersey, South Carolina and more. Never underestimate the impact one person with a good idea can have.

We are profoundly saddened. There may be a memorial service in Buffalo for Marvin in the spring. Stay tuned. Add Gail and family to your prayers and say a prayer of gratitude that Marvin shared his time, talents, ideas, passion and energy on making Buffalo a better place to live. 

His idea for Garden Walk Buffalo sprang from his love of cities and desire to better promote their assets, his family said. The couple’s house at Norwood and Utica avenues was the headquarters for the walk for its first several years. He was named a Citizen of the Year by the Forever Elmwood Association for his efforts.

Marvin was born in New York City, where he earned a bachelor’s degree from City College of New York, and his master’s and doctorate degrees from New York University.

Marvin served as a distinguished professor at SUNY Fredonia from 1970 until 1996. After his retirement, he was awarded the Academic World Star by the University of Humanities in Moscow in 1998.

His special area of scholarship was Spain during the Renaissance and Reformation, combined with a strong interest in urban governance.

He spent the fall of 1977 as Toronto’s inaugural Intern in Metropolitan Government, and in 1980 he spent a year as the consultant to the City Council president in New York City, concentrating on quality-of-life issues. He was the director of the Urban and Community Studies Program at SUNY Fredonia for a decade. Marvin served in the Army Reserve.

After suffering a stroke in 2003, he strove valiantly to regain his strength, according to family members.

Survivors include his wife of 30 years, Gail McCarthy of Port St. Lucie, FL; son, Professor Peter Lunenfeld of Los Angeles, CA; stepdaughters, Deirdre Cotter and Maura George, both of Buffalo, NY; stepsons, Brendan McCarthy of Chicago, IL, Barry McCarthy of Miami, FL and Richard McCarthy of Buffalo, NY; and two grandchildren.