As a public figure, Michels was known for getting along with all kinds of people, some of whom disliked each other. He was a unifying figure on the Council and in the communities he served. He chaired the Committee on Environmental Protection, one of the more important Council committees.
Legislatively, he sponsored the Clean Indoor Air Act, which this blogger bequeathed to him when he left the Council in 1983 to become Parks Commissioner. The council efforts, which paralleled Assemblyman Pete Grannis' initiative in Albany, came before Mayor Bloomberg's election, which resulted in numerous anti-smoking measurses, which Michels strongly supported.
Michels secured, over the years, tens of millions of dollars in capital funds for the restoration of parks in north Manhattan, including the Moses-era Highbridge Pool. He was particularly involved with, and interested in the improvement of Fort Tryon Park, much of which was a gift to the city from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Year after year, he amended the capital budget and sometimes the expense budget to help parks. He was a board member of the Friends of the Heather Garden, a formal garden which overlooks the Hudson.
On July 24, the main walkway in Fort Tryon Park, leading north from Margaret Corbin Circle and overlooking the Heather Garden, was named Stan Michels Promenade, in a ceremony led by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Supreme Court Justice Edward Lehner, Council colleagues Robert Jackson and Gale Brewer, and present and former local elected officials participated in the tribute.
Michels was the closing speaker, thanking his family, colleagues and friends, including longtime aide Steve Simon, for all they had done for him and for the park. The new promenade name was unveiled. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of neighborhood residents, who welcomed the opportunity to salute an old friend. To some of the older people who were there, the event evoked Lou Gehrig's farewell to the New York Yankees on July 4, 1939.
Michels is survived by his wife of 48 years, Molly, a retired teacher, two daughters, Judge Shari Michels and Karen Michels, a teacher, and a son, Jeffrey, a lawyer living in Israel, a sister, Ellen Grant, a granddaughter, Annabelle Buckvar, and two grandsons, Amir and Yonatan Michels.
By Henry J. Stern / August 1, 2008