February 26, 2014 — The 52nd Street Project mourns the loss of Ed Vassallo, a Project Pal if ever there was one. He was first a friend, a great friend, beloved, wonderful company, a man with a delightful gift for friendship. And he was as fine a volunteer as we have ever known, always ready, tireless even, refreshing to everyone around him. He did everything a theater artist does: write, sing, dance, act, direct, dramaturge, mentor, you name it; and he did all of it well and with flair, and then he’d go and play catch or checkers with a kid or two (often the kids with the roughest edges and the biggest challenges, who were drawn to him because Ed was cool and sweet-natured and he saw what was best in you).
He did load-ins too, back when we had load-ins, and for three years in a row he hosted the Playback Weekend up at Franklin Stage in the Catskills, courtesy of his friends Gene, Carol and Carmela Marner. He did everything, not just the fun stuff where everybody tells you that you were great when it’s all over. And no matter what, everything he did with us was shot through with what the Project is all about: pleasure, common endeavor, and the full expression of each kid’s promise and potential.
We will always remember him with abiding love and with deep gratitude for how much he blessed the Project and all of us who call it a place to belong.
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