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Sidney Hollander Jr., political pollster and market research pioneer, dies

Sidney Hollander Jr., 100, a leader in civil rights movement, died.

Sidney Hollander Jr., a retired pioneer in market and political research who was a leader in the civil rights movement, died of respiratory failure Monday at Roland Park Place. The longtime Windsor Hills resident was 100.

Mr. Hollander worked with developer James W. Rouse on the creation of Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore and in the early planning of Columbia. He also conducted numerous election polls for newspapers and political candidates.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Talbot Road in Windsor Hills, he was the son of Sidney Hollander Sr., a pharmacist who invented REM cough medicine and was later a civil rights activist and philanthropist. His mother was Clara Lauer, who attended Vassar College.

He was a 1931 Park School graduate and earned a bachelor's degree in sociology at Haverford College, where he belonged to the Liberal Club. He studied at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago. He went into market research on the advice of one of his Penn professors, the economist Richard M. Neustadt.

During World War II he served in the Army Air Forces, working in radar.

Mr. Hollander was a prolific letter writer to The Baltimore Sun and other publications. In 1933, when he was 18, he wrote a lengthy piece on world's fairs for The Sun.

He initially worked for his father at his pharmaceutical manufacturing plant but later founded his own marketing business. He worked from home in Windsor Hills and in 1949 founded Sidney Hollander Associates, later Hollander/Cohen Associates, based in Charles Village. The firm continues as Hollander Cohen McBride.

Mr. Hollander conducted market research on behalf of local and national businesses, including the old National Brewing Co., the Rouse Co. and The Sun. He was a past president of the Association of Public Opinion Research. He was a co-author of the 1964 university textbook "Marketing Research."

He was busy during election campaigns. He was retained by candidates and newspapers to show how prospective voters were most likely to cast their ballots.

A 1988 Evening Sun article described him: "Hollander's a man of considerable, easy elegance. ... His voice is deep and reassuring."

In the 1978 Democratic primary campaign for Maryland's governor, he was retained by the old News American to chart the election. The field of candidates included acting Gov. Blair Lee III, Baltimore County Executive Ted Venetoulis, Transportation Secretary Harry Hughes and City Council President Walter Orlinsky. Lee, who filled the vacancy after Marvin Mandel left office, led the polls throughout the summer. In August 1978, The Sun endorsed Harry Hughes, who had been running a distant third.

Mr. Hollander showed that after the endorsement, Mr. Hughes' campaign took off. The candidate beat his primary challengers and won the general election against J. Glenn Beall, his Republican opponent.

In a 1979 article titled "On the Strength of a Newspaper Endorsement" in Public Opinion Quarterly, Mr. Hollander wrote, "The newspaper endorsement made Hughes a plausible candidate, and the voters did the rest."

In 1988, he recalled in The Evening Sun: "And while everybody was watching to see what would happen between Venetoulis and Lee, if you want to put it in terms of the racetrack, Hughes slipped between horses and then went on a finish."

Family members said Mr. Hollander, like his father before him, was an activist advocate of civil rights, civil liberties and peace. They said that while his father was often in the public spotlight, Mr. Hollander worked behind the scenes.

"He really did shun the limelight," said his daughter, Carol Rawson Hollander of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

In 1946 he joined with other members of the Maryland Civil Liberties Committee to protest a police shooting of three African-Americans in Baltimore.

"The younger Hollander was a quiet activist, not one to march or protest. He joined interracial student groups and — focusing on fair housing — fought white flight in his neighborhood, Windsor Hills, as it threatened to become segregated," said a 1999 Sun article.

In 1959, Mr. Hollander helped form Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc., a nonprofit organization that combats housing discrimination. He later received the Elizabeth Gilman Award from the Maryland Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The Real Estate Board of Greater Baltimore supported fair-housing legislation — they were the only ones in the country to do this at the time," he said in 1999. "It shocked the National Association of Realtors. It was an amazing thing to see."

After living in Windsor Hills for decades, Mr. Hollander moved to Roland Park Place in 1994. He then became involved in a weekly peace vigil on 40th Street. Ever the pollster, he counted the number of car horns that responded favorably to the signs. He protested alongside his sister, Edith Furstenberg, who also lived at the senior housing complex.

Family members said Mr. Hollander had no hobbies.

"He was always working or doing good deeds," said his daughter.

Plans for a memorial gathering in the fall are incomplete.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include two sons, Edward Sidney Hollander of Washington and David Lewis Hollander of Baltimore; five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. His wife of 61 years, the former Katharine Rawson, a social worker, died in 1999. His sister died earlier this year.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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