In Memoriam: Walter Mankoff, 1930–2021 Cooperative Housing Says Good-Bye to One of the Greats

Mankoff (L) accepts his induction into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame from State Sen. Brad Hoylman in 2014.

CooperatorNews regrets to report the passing of Walter Mankoff, 91, who served for nearly half a century on the board of the Mutual Redevelopment Houses, otherwise known as Penn South, in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. 

Mankoff was legendary in the world of cooperative housing, beginning his professional career as an economist for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), which went on to sponsor limited-equity cooperative housing projects throughout New York City—including Penn South, where Mankoff moved with his mother in 1971. After a couple of years in the U.S. Army, he went on to work at the ILGWU for another 43 years before retiring in 1996.

In the intervening years, Mankoff contributed his fierce intellect and generous spirit to several municipal and community organizations, including the New York Advisory Council on Employment and Unemployment Insurance, the New York City Business Relocation Assistance Corporation, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Academy of Social Insurance, and Manhattan Community Board 4. 

But it is his service to his own community at Penn South and the extended Coordinating Council of Cooperatives (CCC) member communities that arguably has had the greatest impact on the more than 20,000 New Yorkers who live there. At the announcement of his passing, members of the various boards, as well as property managers, vendors, service professionals, and individual shareholders, shared their sentiments and memories of the man who has come to represent the very best of cooperative living to all who knew him. A selection follows.

“The thing I always remember about Walter is that he was legendary with the attorneys at Szold & Brandwen ... due to his incredible intelligence. He was always kind and respectful to me and I laugh at the fact that he was so old when we first met 30 years ago, when he was my current age. While my perspective as to age has certainly changed, the deep respect I have for Walter and which was richly deserved has not.” 


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