ILLUMINATION
Published in

ILLUMINATION

Lou Grant?

Remembering ED ASNER

His Greatest Role

Ed Asner and Wendy Weber, Jewish Community Center, Scottsdale, AZ
Ed Asner and Wendy Weber, Jewish Community Center, Scottsdale, AZ, 2–8–2019, Photo Owned by Author

In 1970 I began watching “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” with the Lou Grant character among other iconic cast members. Then he went onto his own “Lou Grant” show. I had seen him in various other roles, recall him, especially, in “Roots”, and a couple of westerns.

I hadn’t been especially aware of all the humanitarian work he had championed. But when I met him February 8, 2019 at the Gesher Disability Resources annual luncheon, I learned about his latest work.

“His legacy will live on with The Ed Asner Family Center, launched in 2017 by Asner’s son, Matt Asner, and daughter-in-law Navah Paskowitz Asner. The center provides counseling services, support groups, enrichment programs and camps to special needs individuals and their families.” From ME TV newsletter September 4, 2021

METV chose four of the Mary Tyler Moore shows that feature wonderful performances of the character Lou Grant. I hadn’t seen them in decades and laughed my head off. What a talented performer! What a great pleasure it was to meet him in 2019.

Having a family member with disabilities is likely the most common reason to work for the benefit of those members — as I did for my daughter who happens to have Down syndrome. Ed Asner has a son, a grandson, and two step-grandsons on the Autism spectrum, which ranges from severely debilitated to extremely high functioning and brilliant. I have a good friend in that latter category who has college degrees and functions very well. The social aspects are often what gives away that particular disability.

A great article about Ed Asner and his family can be found here.

My daughter and I belong to the Gesher Disability Resources family. It began in 1985 as The Council for Jews with Special Needs. Leila was five years old. She was so cute — probably about 15 to 20 years later the Council did a retrospective of Leila at the annual fundraising gala. It was so much fun to watch.

I used the Jewish parent support groups with a psychologist, there were and are programs with fun activities, music experiences, and learning activities — about Judaism. The program provided aides at Sunday School and resources for the Jewish schools (Leila went to public school). There are special supports for summer camp.

And over a decade ago a monthly Simchat Shabbat — service for people with special needs, was started and we went to most of them. Right now they are online. These are “no shush” services. Not everyone can stay seated or quiet. This service is a safe place. Adults, parents, friends, are welcome and the teaching and the inclusion for the “honors” benefits everyone.

So I was thrilled when Ed Asner and one of his sons and daughters in law were to be at the annual luncheon at the JCC (Jewish Community Center). I made it my business to meet Mr. Asner and what a privilege that was.

Thanks, Ed, for everything, and thanks for the memories!

With love, Wendy and Leila

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Wendy Weber

Wendy Weber

Longtime lyricist-composer of customized songs, harmony specialist, energy healer, backyard farmer, innovative cook, mother, and member of a 2-parrot flock.