San Francisco, Calif. – Sidney Unobskey, international real estate developer, philanthropist, and former Chairman of the San Francisco Planning Commission died on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, at his home in San Francisco at the age of 83, after a long fight with cancer.
Unobskey was an early innovator in shopping mall development, with projects in Europe, Australia, and the United States. As a developer, he pioneered the concept of multiple theaters under one roof. In 1967, Sidney took a leave of absence from his development career to work on Senator Robert Kennedy’s plans for the redevelopment of Bedford-Stuyvesant, an economically disadvantaged area of Brooklyn, New York. In 1968, Sidney developed a strategy for Senator Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Unobskey used his business contacts to set up events in suburban shopping centers throughout the country because as Sidney told Kennedy, the suburbs are where the voters are.
In the city of Calais, Maine, where Sidney grew up, he and his wife, Nancy, introduced programs for recreation, trail development, and math and computer education. They also founded Unobskey College in Calais. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Sidney to the Roosevelt Campobello International Commission (RCIC), on Campobello Island. In the 14 years that Sidney was on the commission, he worked on improving the outdoor areas for hiking, biking, and camping. He also worked to make the island a more sought-after vacation area that would attract visitors from both Canada and the United States to the St. Croix River Valley. In 2009, Husson University awarded Unobskey an honorary doctorate in business administration for extraordinary entrepreneurial creativity, for transforming cities around the globe, and for his passion and generosity towards the people of the St. Croix River Valley.
Unobskey was a philanthropist for education, rural Maine economic development, and the arts. He endowed a chair in American History at Yale College in honor of his father, Arthur Unobskey. Sidney Unobskey was born in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, on April 18, 1937. As a young boy, he worked in the family store as it developed into an icon in Washington county. He earned degrees from Phillip’s Academy, Andover, and Yale University.
In 1961, Sidney married Nancy Goldstein, the start of a 60-year partnership of love, family, philanthropy, and the arts. Sidney’s career took the family from New York to Philadelphia, Boston, Brussels, Detroit, San Francisco to Robbinston Maine, with projects in Hawaii, Australia, Singapore, and Malaysia. In 1991, Unobskey was appointed Chairman of the San Francisco Planning Commission by Mayor Frank Jordan. Unobskey helped the city recover from the 1989 earthquake with visionary plans for reconstruction.
Sidney is survived by his wife, Nancy Unobskey of San Francisco; daughter, Laura Unobskey; son, Arthur Unobskey and his wife, Deborah Reck, with grandchildren, Oscar, Nadav, David, Ella, and Noa.
Sidney will be interred in Bangor, Maine. Due to COVID-19, no public services will be held. In lieu of flowers, please contribute to the Unobskey Scholars Program. This program provides scholarships to Phillips Academy, Andover for rural economically-disadvantaged high school students from Washington County, Maine and Charlotte County, New Brunswick. Unobskey Scholars Program, care of Unobskey Foundation, 1000 Mason St., San Francisco, CA 94108.
Published on January 26, 2021