Port Washington residents, officials remember Ed Balcourt

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Port Washington residents and officials gather to celebrate the life of Ed Balcourt. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

Gathering in the garden that he once overlooked, the friends and family of Ed Balcourt held a brief remembrance for the man who helped to make Port Washington more beautiful.

“We got him back to Port Washington and he loved it here more than anywhere,” his son, Barry Balcourt, said.

Ed Balcourt was born in Brooklyn and lived for a few years in Florida, but spent the majority of his life — 50 years, to be exact — on the Port peninsula. Balcourt died last  spring, but his son, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth and members of the community assembled last Thursday outside of the Landmark on Main to remember him.

Part of the remembrance was to dedicate a painted pot from Plant a Row, which will be used to grow eggplant for a food bank. It was an appropriate place for the pot, as Belcourt lived in an apartment in Landmark for several years, and an appropriate memorial, as Balcourt was known for his painting.

Barry said his father painted every single day, well into his 90s. For years, Balcourt taught painting classes at the Port Washington Senior Center. Several of his former students were in attendance.

“I went to Ed’s class about eight years ago, and he said to me ‘You’re going to do acrylics,’ and I said, ‘No, Ed, I’m sticking with watercolors,” said Alicia McCarvill. “He kept asking if I wanted to try it and I said, ‘Yeah, I want to try it.’ So I painted this pot in acrylics in his memory.”

Another student remembered how Balcourt was so talented that he could paint upside-down. And yet his class was open to anyone — all you had to be able to do was write your own name, McCarvill recalled.

By spending so much time at the Senior Center, he got to know many of the people who worked there, including former director Dolores Holliday.

“Ed was my best friend,” Holliday said. “We would go to the movies three times a week … when he told me he wasn’t doing well, I was really, really crushed. But I have a lot of memories … and I know he’s looking down at us right now, so happy.”

He also was involved with the Plant a Row painted pots, which he thought was a great way to combine art with drawing attention to those who needed food.

“This was very important to him,” Barry Balcourt said.

As the group gathered around the painted pot for a picture, the air was filled with the shouts of children playing on a nearby playground.

“He couldn’t wait until spring to hear the children outside his window,” Barry Balcourt remarked. “That’s what he looked forward to … he would turn down the TV to listen to them.”

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at ltorrance@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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