In Memoriam Gösta Blücher
Sadly, the Grand Old Man of the Swedish School of Planning at Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH) - a full member of AESOP - has passed away. I have happy memories of Gösta and want to share my sense of grief and my esteem for him.
I first heard him speaking about Swedish national planning at the Stockhom AESOP congress 1992. Being I about to complete a study of Dutch national planning, I proposed to compare the two. But Sweden was giving its municipalities much power and abjuring national planning.
I learned - the details elude me - that Gösta got involved in setting up Boverket, the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning at Karlskrona in the south-east corner of Sweden, supporting the planning education offered at BTH. But when I visited for the first time, in 1999, my host was Jan-Evert Nilsson. More visits followed in the 2000s for giving European spatial planning courses. With other international scholars, I also sat on an advisory board chaired by Gösta, which was when I really learned to know him as the quiet, gentlemanly, but forcefull personality. Him having access to the navy mess at Karlskrona, Sweden's naval base, we had great meals there.
Gösta was the one also who, at the occasion of the BTH's anniversary awared me the honorary doctorate which the authorities had gracefully decided to bestouw upon me. Much more deservedly given his past role, he was subsequently awarded one himself.
My involvement continued into the early 2010s. BTH had other international visitors, so for a while there was a room with the names of Simin Davoudi and myself on the door. Gösta was always present, something of a grandfather, bringing home-grown Swedish apples from his garden. (He had a second home in Karlskrona but spent the winters in Stokholm.)
At the occasion of his retirement, I could take the measure of the estime the Swedish planning community had for him. More or less at the drop of a hat, colleagues produced a Festschrift - Vänbok in Swedish - with more than twenty-five papers. Not being a Swedish speaker myself, my good friend Lars Emmelin translated my reflections on fifty years as an academic. Gösta graciously thanked me by letter, pointing out similarities with his own career. I treasure the letter and the book in his honour: Bertil Albertson, Lars Emmelin, Jan-Evert Nilsson, Frederik von Platen (eds.) (2016) Femtio år av svensik samhällsplanering: Vänbok till Gösta Blücher, Printfabriken AB, Karlskrona. Gösta's friends and admirers will miss him.