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Dick Lillie, father of Austin Tomorrow, dies

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Dick Lillie, who led the city planning department through some of its most turbulent times, died Monday at the age of 89. Lillie ushered a host of land use regulations through the city adoption process that are now deemed essential to planning and preserving neighborhoods and the environment. Jim Duncan, his friend and successor as director of planning, told the Austin Monitor he met Lillie in 1961 as Lillie was leaving the department to go to graduate school. It so happened that Lillie was leaving behind a job as research analyst, and he advised Duncan that the position would be open. Duncan took the job. Lillie got his master’s degree in planning, and after a stint as planning director in Waco, Lillie returned to Austin. That was 1965; five years later, Lillie was named director of the department. Not long after that Lillie began to put together the Austin Tomorrow program, which the city still uses as a fundamental planning tool. Duncan took over as director of planning when Lillie went into private practice in 1984. Duncan said Monday that he merely continued the good work Lillie had started. Duncan, who currently serves on the Zoning and Platting Commission, said of his colleague, “Over the past 60 years I have literally worked with thousands of planners and I can say, without hesitation, that not one of them has matched Dick’s caring, competence or character. Dick Lillie personified the perfect professional planner.” The Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association has posted a slideshow tribute to Lillie highlighting some of his many contributions to the city, including pushing for adoption of ordinances regulating building in floodplains, protecting the city’s creeks and reviewing municipal utility districts.

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