The shopping center industry lost a legendary figure in June. Albert Sussman, the consummate entrepreneur and former ICSC executive vice president, died at the age of 88.

Known as “Mr. ICSC,” Sussman was the association's first employee in 1958 and spent the next 28 years working to boost membership at home and abroad and launch education programs.

His decision to include deal making in an open forum was among his boldest strokes. “When I first came to ICSC, there was great debate about whether this was a good idea,” recalls John Riordan, who joined the council's staff in 1982 and succeeded Sussman in 1986. “People were hesitant to do business in a trade-show environment,” adds Riordan, who retired from the association in 2003 and still serves as a consultant.

But how could Sussman be so sure developers would do business in the open? “He and I were at a funeral one time,” Riordan recounts, “and some guys were over in the corner with plans spread out for a shopping center. They were doing a deal.”

Sussman was a graduate of The City College of New York, served in the U.S. Army during World War II and came to the association with considerable experience in public relations.

“Albert Sussman had this special quality — people would do almost anything for him,” Riordan says. “For several years after I took over, if I needed to reach someone I would say that I was Albert Sussman calling. It was a good technique.”