When we first met Ed, we realized we had a fantastic storyteller join the team — weaving tales (complete with hand gestures and voices) about his travels to Europe and his golf swing, all within our first hours of getting to know each other. Stories jumped out of Ed the same way his laughter did — easily, naturally, fully, in a way that made folks around him feel like they were old friends instantaneously, guffawing at a good joke. While we did not know Ed for a long period of his incredible and full life, the quality of the time we spent with him (as a volunteer and supporter of 826michigan between 2014-2018) was rich and made an indelible impact on us. He is already greatly missed as a member of the 826michigan community.
Ed contributed to our work in so many ways: he was very open to talking about not only his past experiences with education, but with what he saw in the present, thoughtfully asking questions about his strategies and students’ progress, and always in welcoming everyone — students and fellow tutors, interns, family members and supporters — into a conversation. Ed often worked with the same students week after week at tutoring because he developed such a caring rapport with them.
Ed was a great resource to all of us — he would email staff and interns with interesting education articles or writing prompts he found that reminded him of working with our students. He would jump into any situation with a program fearlessly, with his characteristic humor and modesty, generosity of spirit and kindness. We had long known Ed would make a great apprentice to our editor Dr. Blotch, for instance, and when the role finally fell to him, he gave it his own caring spin, helping Dr. Blotch transform from a mean, nefarious editor to a deep-down-lovable curmudgeon who couldn’t help but be overcome with delight by the students’ stories.
Ed was a wonderful role model for many of us, continuing his work volunteering in the community after a long career dedicated to social justice, a career that included standing up for what he believed in, even when it meant a difficult road ahead for him. Throughout his life and during his time with 826michigan, personal connection was such a value of Ed’s. He stayed in touch with staff and sent encouragement and updates to us at the beginning of the school year and new year, and visiting us for lunch sometimes, even when his health made it difficult for him to volunteer regularly.
Ed would constantly tell us how meaningful volunteering was to him. He wrote,“Every day that I have spent with the people of 826 has provided me with an extraordinary experience which fills my spirit with excitement and hope: witnessing youngsters taking small steps, one at a time, which soon turns to running many steps at a time.”
To us, this felt like the best kind of relationship — one where everyone feels the luckiest to be involved.