Hooray for Mr. P

BOSTON (CBS) – Euclid Joseph Peltier, affectionately known as “Ed,” was honored at a most inspiring  memorial service a few days back.  Well over a hundred of us gathered at the Paulist Center on Boston Common to commemorate a long life well lived, that of one of Boston’s treasures Ed Peltier.  The event, held appropriately enough on Academy Award Sunday, offered many who knew him personally a chance to reminisce about a kind, gregarious gem of a gentleman who graced us and many others with wit, exuberance and the joy of unending curiosity.

Ed was, in the truest sense, a renaissance man, a lover of film, music and theatre who fostered his career around a passion for the arts.  As the film archivist at the Boston Public Library, a post he held for decades, Ed Peltier was our “go-to” guy for clips, content, connections and of course conversation.  He was a radio guest of mine numerous times, never failing to entertain my audience and me with the most amusing stories from the Hollywood’s golden age.  I’m sorry for  those who never had the chance to know him, to talk about movies and movie stars, opera, jazz or the latest Broadway musical.  Because talking with Ed Peltier was an experience in learning but always fun.

Allow me to recount this remarkable friend’s life in words with a bow to that which he loved so much, The Silver Screen.  Lights…camera…action!

90 years ago, A Star is Born.  Euclid Joseph Peltier grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts, one of a large family who knew at an early age that for him The Hollywood Canteen would be calling.  Soon, he and millions others were forced to answer another calling.  World War II had arrived and our friend Ed, being a true honest to goodness Yankee Doodle Dandy joined the Navy, signing up to take part in Operation Pacific.  He served in a critical role as a code breaker, dedicated to helping his fellow comrades retake The Sands of Iwo Jima.

When Ed returned home to the states, he got the Good News that he would be enrolled at Boston University where he would major in the stuff that he  loved since childhood—film, art, communications.  He was happy enough to be seen Singing in the Rain on Commonwealth Ave on more than one occasion!

After Ed became a proud Graduate, he found his place among the books, records and films at the Boston Public Library.  Ed became this city’s number one archivist, collector, promoter and resident expert and remained so for decades.  He was indeed The Godfather to all who loved movies and what made them special.

Like The Music Man, he romanced his own Madam Librarian, marrying Felicia and embarking on the most enduring and meaningful production of all, his family.

In his 90 plus years, Ed Peltier was so many things to so many.

To a daughter and family, he was their Atticus Finch.

As a teacher to thousands of students, he was their Mr. Chips.

As a loyal and decent friend, he was our George Bailey.

We celebrate a man’s energy, humor, wisdom and zest for life, sensing that his spirit will be present for a very long time, that this man’s memory will never be merely Gone with the Wind.  If you Look, Look to the Rainbow, you’ll get the feeling that Somewhere Over the Rainbow, our lovely friend Ed Peltier is settling back to enjoy a classic black and white  film, sharing conversation and laughter with every angel he meets.

It was indeed fitting to hold his remembrance on the day the Oscars were presented.  At both the quiet  memorial service and the spectacle that was the 84th Academy Awards Presentation that evening, it was The Artist that we graciously applauded.

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