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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A fitting funeral for Ed Lewi, the life of the party

Buttons and "fans" were bearing Ed Lewi's likeness
and motto were given to guests at his Celebration of Life.
Ed Lewi would have loved his funeral.

It was, as he wished, not a somber service Tuesday but a party – a festive lunch in an air-conditioned tent along the rail at Saratoga Race Course with cheerful music from Reggie’s Red Hot Feet Warmers, champagne and, for dessert, his favorite cookies and ice cream.

The usual life of the party was there – in spirit, in upbeat remembrances, and on buttons bearing his image and motto, “If it ain’t fun, don’t do it,” that were handed out and pinned on the lapels of several hundred guests who responded to the obituary invitation to celebrate Ed’s life.
This was as close as I'd get to the eagle that greeted
guests outside the party tent. I didn't get any closer to
the porcupine =

Ed was the consummate marketer and public relations guru whose professional work, volunteerism and philanthropy were instrumental to the continued success of the racecourse, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Double H Ranch for seriously ill children, the YMCA Camp Chingachgook, the holiday parade in Schenectady and lots more.

Ed, who died on Travers Day at age 81, accomplished so much, never seeking out the spotlight for himself. He loved people. He had the perfect match in the love of his life, his wife Maureen. He refused to let illness slow him down. He was just plain nice, a lovable gentlemen, full of genuine enthusiasm and kindness. Yeah, he could spin a story for the good of a client, but mostly for the greater good of the community.

Only funeral service I've been at
where lottery tickets were given out
as party favors. 
He liked wacky outsized promotions that people would enjoy and remember. Often they involved animals, so it was fitting to find a porcupine and eagle among the wildlife greeting guests as they arrived Tuesday to his Celebration of Life. And, at the end, in a nod to his enjoyment of a little gambling, guests were handed scratch-off lottery tickets. That left me $1 richer for attending Ed’s party – and much, much richer for having known him. 


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