A birthday gift for Ed Lewi: A thank you to Maureen
It is a thank you to his wife, Maureen Lewi — not for being Ed’s better half, though that alone is worth countless accolades, but for her essential role in the success of Saratoga 150 festivities that generated so much excitement this past year.
Preparation for the 150th anniversary of thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs began many months in advance, and Maureen was a key player from the beginning. She coordinated, delegated, did plenty of hands-on work and accomplished enormous tasks in her typically understated manner. She never seeks the spotlight, though she’d look great under one.
For decades, Ed and Maureen were the team behind the promotion and marketing firm that bears his name, bringing razzle-dazzle to fundraising events and community projects in and beyond Saratoga Springs. They have enough stories to fill a book, and don’t be surprised if you eventually see one.
After they sold Ed Lewi Associates, Saratogian society writer Jeannette Jordan wrote in 2010 that Maureen was more eager than Ed to retire. It’s a good thing they did, or Maureen wouldn’t have had the time to turn Saratoga 150 ideas into memorable realities.
Toward the end of the racing season, I was catching up with Ed and he lamented the lack of a public thank you to Maureen for her tireless efforts. I thought it would be a good topic for one of my columns. But it couldn’t come from him, he warned. She’d kill him. So I took the idea, wrote a draft, and never quite got it done.
For one thing, I didn’t want to be responsible for Maureen killing Ed. For another, many people deserve credit for their hard work on various aspects of Saratoga 150. There were chairs, honorary chairs, committee members and innumerable volunteers. It didn’t seem quite right to single out one person.
For instance, if this column was strictly about the Floral Fete and Ice Cream Social, it would be a no-brainer to thank both Maureen and Marlene Okby, the co-chairs. This extraordinary event drew more than 30,000 people to downtown Saratoga Springs the evening of Aug. 2, and, in terms of community involvement, it was the single most successful of the myriad events celebrating racing’s milestone anniversary. Likewise, Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson provided inspiration, a celebrity presence and incredible generosity to bring widespread attention to the city they love. As honorary chairs, they did a lot more than lend their name to Saratoga 150.
Thus, weeks went by and I set the column aside, though it was never out of my mind. I was touched by how Ed thought Maureen should be publicly acknowledged, despite the certainty that she wanted no such attention. And then, just before 2013 slipped away, I came up with a hook: Ed’s milestone birthday.
It takes a certain personality to be content to work your buns off behind the scenes. But that’s where Maureen Lewi is comfortable, personally and professionally. She is also an extremely gracious person. So I’m counting on her to take this unsought recognition with her usual poise.
Thank you, Maureen.
Hope you had a wonderful birthday, Ed.