In Loving Memory: The Rev. Norman Eddy, a Minister in East Harlem, a Beacon of Dignity, Dies at 93

By Paul Vitello – Published in the New York Times: June 30, 2013

The Rev. Norman Eddy, a Yale-educated minister from Connecticut who settled in a blighted East Harlem neighborhood in 1951 and helped start a pioneering drug treatment program, a tenants’ group, a housing project, a credit union and the myriad self-help organizations that have sustained his work there for over 60 years, died on June 21 in Manhattan. He was 93. His daughter, Martha Eddy, is a dear member of HumanDHS. Please read more at:

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The Rev. Norman Eddy

One Response to In Loving Memory: The Rev. Norman Eddy, a Minister in East Harlem, a Beacon of Dignity, Dies at 93

  • Thank you, Linda for posting these descriptions of my father and his life work. He so enjoyed meeting the NY conference in 2011. I believe that he was more at peace to leave this planet knowing about the work of HDHS and the thousands of gatherings of people who are committed to equity and compassion for all. He had hoped to see the eradication of poverty in his life time and felt adamant that we have the tools at this time for such a vision. In particular his life work involved seeing the depth and spirit of each individual and helping to connect people to resources and the passion to fight injustices they were experiencing. The main resource was each other, other human beings. He also felt strongly that if meetings would begin in meditation or prayer the quality, focus and effectiveness of any organizational work would improve ten thousand fold. It is this practice along with keeping meticulous records of attendance, minutes, and moving forward to take democratic action that afforded him these many successes. He called this type of activism – spiritual coordination. I’d be happy to share more about it if there is interest.

    Two short stories – when first living in East Harlem he was getting to know the Puerto Rican and southern African-American families there. In the first weeks of walking in East Harlem he would smile at people. He found people moved away from his smile. Gradually he found a way to “smile with his eyes.” This practice opened people to him.

    In another particular instance, he was meeting with an extremely poor family with the news that he had succeeded in raising the funds to send their child out of the neighborhood for a private education. He had arranged for the child to receive a scholarship. He thought the family would be delighted. He learned instead that first the family need to walk away from the offer and to return later to accept it on their own terms. This was the beginning of learning about the profound tradition of “dignidad” in the Hispanic and Latino communities. He appreciated and learned from this experience and did his best to honor it for the rest of his life.

    These small types of awareness are the foundation for building trust. Of course choosing to stay and live in East Harlem and make this community his beloved home was a driving commitment that led to the citizens many successes; successes that became models for other communities. Later in life he acknowledged that a global community could also succeed, as long as the thousands of well-meaning groups communicate and coordinate their efforts. Salutations to HDHS for taking on the huge task of networking the extraordinary efforts being made worldwide.

    Martha Eddy

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