by Michael R. Allen
Yesterday, Marti Frumhoff passed away far too early. The news is shocking, and I barely know what words can summarize such a great person who lived a great life.
To me, Marti was that person whose advice was always constructive and affirming. Even when we disagreed a conversation with her made me feel like I had the power to change the city — and so did her numerous other friends. Not only did she believe that we would make St. Louis a great city, she inspired those around her to act on our beliefs. She was a catalyst between idea and action, and never adverse to learning about one more idea, meeting one more person and making one more good thing happen.
Her impact on others’ lives is astounding given how busy she kept herself. Many knew her as the founder and ringleader of the Rehabbers’ Club, the largest and most active historic preservation constituency in St. Louis. Recently, she had founded ReVitalize St. Louis to create a platform for progressive action on built environment, political and cultural issues in the city. She launched Mainstreet St. Louis — an innovative project with great potential. Her regular job was working as a realtor, selling the city as much as its houses. Somehow, she managed to show up at everyone else’s meetings and events to provide support; lately, she was active with the Historic Mullanphy Alliance. Marti would often invent the vehicles for change needed to make something happen — and never complained, or shirked the responsibilities she had. She did what had to be done.
Her tireless enthusiasm for changing St. Louis, educating people and bringing out the best in everyone surpassed that of anyone I know. Marti’s life is intertwined with so many people, organizations and places that have grown because of her. Her spirit will be with us forever.
For a recent account of Marti’s ideas, please read this transcript of a round-table discussion that appeared in the April issue of St. Louis Magazine featuring Marti, Joseph Heathcott, Steve Patterson and me.
Steve Patterson of Urban Review has also posted a tribute, “St. Louis Just Lost A Great Advocate”; he urges people to leave memories in the comments section.
UPDATE: The memorial service takes place tomorrow, Friday May 18th, 1:00 p.m. at Central Reform Congregation (Kingshighway at Waterman).