Longtime and Respected Association CEO P. Gilbert Mercurio Passes Away
John Jordan | September 28, 2021
WHITE PLAINS—A man who for more than three decades was a driving force behind the growth and growing respect of the Westchester County Board of Realtors has died.
P. Gilbert Mercurio, who led the Westchester County Board of Realtors and its successor organization the Westchester Putnam Association of Realtors for 31 years as its chief executive officer, passed away on Sept. 27th at the age of 78.
He headed the organizations from 1980 through the end of 2011. Mercurio was well respected in the real estate industry as well as in political and business circles and was called upon by municipal, county, state and federal leaders for his business and economic knowledge and expertise.
In his last year as CEO in 2011, Mercurio supervised the preparations for the merger of the Westchester-Putnam operations with the Realtor organizations and multiple listing services representing Rockland and Orange counties, creating the 11th largest Realtor association in the USA with more than 9,500 individual members and more than1,000 Realtor offices. The new entity, Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc., came into existence on Jan. 1, 2012.
Mercurio penned an article in Westchester Realtor and its successor publication Real Estate In-Depth entitled “Up Front” for all 31 years of his association with the Westchester County Board of Realtors.
During Mercurio’s tenure with the WCBR and later WPAR. the organizations were particularly instrumental in proposing and successfully advocating for strong consumer protection measures adopted in New York State including mandatory property conditions disclosure, mandatory real estate agency disclosure, higher standards for the licensing and continuing education of real estate licensees and mandatory special training in fair housing practices.
Those who worked with Mercurio over the years expressed shock at his passing and offered high praise for this man who mentored many into leadership positions in the real estate industry.
Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors CEO Richard Haggerty said, “He was a true visionary leader and one of the most intelligent and thoughtful individuals I have ever had the pleasure to meet. He was a friend and mentor to countless members as well as staff.” Mercurio strongly recommended Haggerty to the Board of Directors back in 2011 to be his successor.
Former WCBR and NYSAR President Savo Fries said of her longtime friend, “One of the most brilliant, articulate and loving persons I have ever met. Once you were Gil’s friend, you were Gil’s friend for life. I will admire him always. I learned so many things from him. I will never forget him.”
Fries said that while Mercurio kept a façade of being serious and always professional, there was another side of him that many were able to experience. “I was fortunate to know the real Gil, the caring and loving person that he was.”
J.P. Endres, another former WCBR President, said that Mercurio supported her successful candidacy for NYSAR President and accompanied her to most of her interviews throughout the state. When she was deciding whether to run for the position, Mercurio provided some encouraging words, saying, “You are going to make Westchester proud.” Noting that she began her real estate career at a relatively young age, Endres recalls that Mercurio guided her through the learning process of understanding association rules and regulations.
Endres, who now serves as branch manager for Howard Hanna | Rand Realty’s New City office, said, “This man had such a love for the industry and such a deep devotion and interest in the proper business of the community, the county and how the Board of Realtors fit in with that.”
She added, “He was the most well-read, well-versed, well-spoken individual that I can honestly say I have met in my entire career who had the knowledge that he possessed about the economics of the county, the business growth and real estate. He was ever so brilliant, ever so eloquent and the most caring man that I have ever met.”
Former Orange County Association of Realtors CEO Ann Garti and Mercurio literally took over their respective CEO positions at about the same time in 1980. Garti, who recently retired as COO of HGAR, told Real Estate In-Depth, “He was my role model. When he and I agreed on something, I always knew I was on the right track. He was incredibly smart. One of the most articulate people I’ve known certainly and despite all that or maybe because of it, he was a very kind person and was always willing to share the benefits of his expertise.” She later said simply of her longtime friend: “He was one of a kind.”
Mercurio was very active in his Realtor association management profession. He served on many committees of the New York State Association of Realtors including Executive, Finance, and Legislation. He was the founding chairman of the Association Executives Committee of that organization. He was a member of the State and Local Issues Committee of the National Association of Realtors and he held the Omega Tau Rho designation of that organization, signifying exceptional service.
From 1973 to 1980, Mercurio was Director of Research and Planning for the Westchester County Association and the World Trade Club of Westchester. Previously he was an urban planner for a private consulting firm as well as the Bergen County and Westchester County Planning Departments, the latter from 1970 to 1973, during which time he worked on and authored parts of the county’s initial master plan titled “Urban Form.” His urban planning degree was from the School of Architecture of Columbia University.
Mercurio had an extensive record of participation in the business and civic life of Westchester County including former service as a Director of the Westchester Housing Fund, Westchester Housing Forum, Westchester Equity Fund, and Westchester Partnership for Economic Development; Chairman of the Urban Centers Task Force of the Westchester 2000 project; President of a White Plains neighborhood association; member of the original County Commission on the Homeless, White Plains Planning Board, Housing Action Council, and White Plains Housing Information Service, among many other organizations. He also served as a trustee of the Westchester County Historical Society.
Mercurio was born on Aug. 2, 1943. A graduate of Regis High School and Columbia University, he was a 1968 combat veteran of the Vietnam War and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Army Commendation Medal. He married Sharon Kay Finley in 1970, who survives him. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather and will be greatly missed by his family and friends. He is survived by his wife Sharon, children: Claudia (Alex); Curtis and Douglas and grandchildren: David, Emilia, Logan, Gavin and Quentin.
Visitation for Gil will be held on Friday, Oct. 1 at the Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services, 2 Maple Ave., White Plains from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.