June 21, 2013
No matter whom you talk to in the neighborhood, everyone has a story about how Norm came into their lives.
Here is mine: In 1999 I was able to stop the illegal demolition of P.S. 109. I got the roof put back on and my group was successful at getting 109 landmarked. However, my group, The Coalition to Save P.S. 109, was still trying to get the school reopened as a public school. I was at yet another Community Board meeting, again getting very little support for the reopening of P.S. 109; after all, they were the ones who had given the OK to tear it down.
Right after I finished making my pitch for support in saving the school, an older man on a walker stood up and said he agreed PS 109 should be restored and reused as a public school. I was so grateful for someone finally understanding and supporting my efforts! That was Norm!
He invited me to team up with his group to try to reclaim our beautiful school house for the kids of El Barrio.
Norm chaired the East Harlem Coalition to Improve our Public Schools. They quickly moved to meticulously survey all East Harlem public schools, confirming that they were 86% overcrowded.
Soon after, we were successful in getting the word of Dr. Irving Hamer of the Board of Education in a 1999 New York Times interview that PS 109 would be restored and reused as a public school.
We went on to receive a beautiful letter of support from Community Board 11 as well as Rep. Charles Rangel, and the full support of NY State Senator Olga Mendez.
In 2005 all that changed. Melissa Mark Viverito became the City Council member, assuring Norm and Community Education District Council 4 and me that she would NOT fight or support the fight to return P.S. 109 to the children of East Harlem. Instead she pushed for converting the building into a specialized artist housing complex.
Norm and I continued to struggle to get 109 reopened against a very well-moneyed political machine. I always thought that we would bring PS 109 back in as a public school before Norms life would end, but I was not able to make that dream come true for Norm.
However I will always be inspired by Rev. Norman Eddy to continue to fight the righteous battles.
Norm was humble. I remember sitting at his kitchen table discussing strategy when he quietly said, "You know, when I first met with Martin.., " and I asked, "Martin , as in Martin Luther King?" He said yes, softly. I said “Norm, you never told me you worked with Martin Luther King!” He said, “you never asked.”
Norm was part of group of ministers that worked early on with Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement .
Another time I was spouting off about how rich people are always taking and never giving back. Norm said not all of them. I said what do you mean, he said his father founded Stanley tools, yet raised him in the spirit of giving back.
I was taken by surprise again.
He rarely mentioned his background as a Yale graduate and post-graduate of Union Theological Seminary. or his brave service as a medic in World War II, where he witnessed the bombing of Dresden and much other carnage.
Norm did not live large. He lived in a modest brownstone and gave of himself to any who asked. His door was always open to those in need.
He also gave of himself institutionally, as founder of the Metro North Citizens' Committee, East Harlem Interfaith, East Harlem Credit Union and the East Harlem Urban Center.
Norman Eddy was the loving husband and close collaborator with the late Rev. Dr. Margaret (“Peg”) Eddy. He is survived by the children he dearly loved, Rebecca Eddy Feuerstein, Tim Eddy and Martha Eddy, and grand and great grand children.
Although much of his energy had faded, he was a spiritual and spirited fireball, and his death still comes as a shock. He will be greatly missed by myself and by the community that loved him so much. Go in peace, Norm.
Community Activist and Friend
Rev. Norman Eddy, Dead at 93
Wake and Viewing: Friday, June 28, 2013, 5-8 P.M.
Funeral Service: Saturday, June 29, 2013, 11 A.M.
Church of the Resurrection, 325 East 101st Street, NYC
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to: New York Theological Seminary Margaret and Norman Eddy Program Center for Spiritual Coordinationa and Community Well-Being, 425 Riverside Drive, Suite 800, New York, NY 10115.