By Sewell Chan Elinor C. Guggenheimer at her 90th birthday party in 2002. (Photo: Bill Cunningham/The New York Times) Elinor C. Guggenheimer, a leading advocate for child care and Head Start, and one of the most prominent women in city government as a member of the Planning Commission in the 1960s and as commissioner of consumer affairs in the 1970s, died on Monday at age 96. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the death. Elly Guggenheimer devoted herself to others, Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement. For nearly half a century, she worked to improve the lives of women, children, seniors and all New Yorkers. The mayor continued: She became the first woman to serve on the New York City Planning Commission in 1961 and later served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. In 1973, she founded the New York Women’s Forum, which she built first into a national and then international organization. And in 1992, she founded the New York Women’s Agenda. More than what she did, though, Elly will be remembered for how she did it always with extraordinary grace, intelligence and passion. She committed herself to public service in the truest and noblest sense, and she will be missed. A full obituary of Mrs. Guggenheimer is being prepared by Douglas Martin of The Times. This brief biographical sketch of Mrs. Guggenheimer is drawn from the newspaper’s archives. Elinor Coleman was born on April 11, 1912, she was the only child of Nathan Coleman, a commercial banker, and his wife, Lillian. She studied at Horace Mann and Vassar College and graduated from Barnard College after her marriage to Randolph Guggenheimer, who came from a family of lawyers and was a partner in the family firm, Guggenheimer & Untermyer. They raised two sons, Charles and Randolph. Indeed, Mrs. Guggenheimer was already a grandmother by the time she intensified her involvement in public life, first in philanthropy and charity. It is a tradition in the Guggenheimer family that all its men become lawyers and all its women work on committees, The New York Times wrote in 1960, when Mrs. Guggenheimer was raising money for the Community Service Society of New York. She also became a committed advocate for government-subsidized child care, serving as chairwoman of the Day Care Council of New York and president of the National Committee for the Day Care of Children. In a letter to The Times in 1964, she defended group day care, saying that smaller day-care programs based in homes were important but not “a substitute for group care.” Mrs. Guggenheimer was named to the City Planning Commission, a powerful zoning body, in 1961 under the administration of Mayor Robert F. Wagner. Her influence lasted through several different administrations. She clashed several times with Mr. Wagner’s successor, John V. Lindsay, a liberal Republican who later became a Democrat. In 1966, Mrs. Guggenheimer resigned her position as co-chairman of the Head Start Committee of the city’s antipoverty program, in protest over conflicts in how the preschool enrichment program was being run. And in 1968, she resigned from the Planning Commission, saying that Mr. Lindsay had diluted its power. The following year, Mrs. Guggenheimer plunged into electoral politics herself, when Herman Badillo, then the Bronx borough president, who was trying to unseat Mayor Lindsay, named her as a running mate, for the position of City Council president, a role that Mr. Badillo believed she should include serving as the city’s top lobbyist in Washington. The Badillo ticket lost and Mr. Lindsay was re-elected but Mrs. Guggenheimer stayed on with Mr. Badillo, becoming an unsalaried special assistant. In 1973, after Abraham D. Beame was elected mayor, he announced Mrs. Guggenheimer’s appointment as consumer affairs commissioner. A profile in The Times reported that Mrs. Guggenheimer acts and makes decisions quickly but occasionally gives the impression of disorganization.?As commissioner, Mrs. Guggenheimer grappled with sharply rising food and energy prices not unlike the situation today. Under her leadership, the Department of Consumer Affairs banned service stations from favoring their regular customers in selling gasoline, which was in short supply; worked to curb consumer abuses; and tried to end discrimination against women in obtaining automobile and disability insurance. Mrs. Guggenheimer remained as commissioner until 1977; Mr. Beame lost his bid for re-election that year to Representative Edward I. Koch. (She was succeeded as consumer affairs commissioner by Bruce C. Ratner, now better known as the developer behind the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.) Mrs. Guggenheimer remained active in philanthropic and civic affairs for the three decades after she left city government.