David Sive, a part-time resident of Millbrook, died on March 12, 2014 after a long illness.
A prominent environmental law attorney, it was his love of the outdoors and especially of the Catskills, that turned him toward that branch of law as it emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. He and his wife Mary had earlier purchased the Burton Hall farm, and it became their home upon retirement.
Sive was born in Brooklyn on September 22, 1922, the son of Abraham Sive and Rebecca Schwartz Sive. As a teenager his growing love for the outdoors and fascination with the American wilderness, as well as his interest in the writings of Thoreau, Emerson and Wordsworth, led him to a lifelong passion for the natural environment, to wilderness preservation and environmental protection. Hiking and camping expeditions during his college years, to the Catskill and Adirondack mountains of upstate New York, foreshadowed his advocacy in later years for the “forever wild” clause in the New York State constitution and his activism for environmental preservation in his home state and throughout the U.S.
Sive graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in political science in 1943, and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and was called up in the spring of 1943 shortly before his college graduation. He served in the front lines in Europe, including in the Battle of the Bulge, was wounded twice and awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Sive enrolled at Columbia Law School following his discharge from the Army in the fall of 1945. He received the Bachelor of Laws degree and was recognized as a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar in 1948.
As a partner in the firm Winer, Neuberger and Sive, founded in New York City in 1962, and a director of the Sierra Club in the 1960s, Sive developed his reputation as an expert litigator and fierce defender of the environment. The successor firm, Sive, Paget and Riesel, remains to this day the nation’s leading law firm specializing in environmental law.
Sive taught litigation and environmental law for many years at Columbia Law School. He joined the faculty of Pace University Law School in 1995; the Pace Law Library houses the David Sive Manuscript Collection, for students and scholars of environmental law.
Sive was a leader and activist with a number of environmental organizations. He was a founding member of Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s leading public interest law firm in this specialty, and of the Environmental Law Institute. He served as chairman of the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club, as a founder of Friends of the Earth and Environmental Advocates of New York, as a member of the board of directors of the Hudson Valley Institute and Scenic Hudson, and as multi-year chair of the annual ALI-ABA Conference on Environmental Law.
He was the recipient of many awards, from the Environmental Law Institute, the New York State Environmental Planning Lobby, the Sierra Club, the New York State Bar Association, The Nature Conservancy, the New York State Parks and Conservation Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and others. He was a prolific author and lecturer on the topics of environmental law and litigation.
Sive is survived by his wife, Mary Robinson Sive, by his children and their spouses, Rebecca Sive and Steven Tomashefsky, Helen and Arthur Pax- ton, Alfred and Marian Sive, Walter Sive and Cheryl Ells-worth, Theodore Sive and Ted Kennedy Watson, and by his grandchildren, William and Emma Paxton, and Caitlin, Haley, Aisling and Hannah Sive.
A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Environmental Law Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council, or Environmental Advocates of New York.