‘The perfect sponsor’: Ed Ansin remembered for constant charity work

BOSTON (WHDH) - While the Ansin Foundation has donated millions of dollars to charities in Massachusetts since 1959, Ed Ansin was content to make major moves behind the scenes without seeking the spotlight, friends remembered after Ansin’s death at 84 Sunday.

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“He didn’t need to be loud. He didn’t need to have a huge personality or disrupt the room,” said Best Buddies founder Anthony Kennedy Shriver. “He was happy in the corner. He was happy being seated in the back as long as he could make a contribution in his own special way that was consistent with his values and consistent with his kindness and his personality.”

Ansin and his brother Ron had a special relationship to the Boys and Girls Club of Charlestown, where the youth center bears the family name. Their donation in the late 1990s helped put a crucial renovation project over the top.

“The Ansins became a hero in Charlestown,” said Derek Gallagher, executive director of the Charlestown Boys and Girls Club. “You could say the name to people in Charlestown, the Ansins, they’re well loved. They’re well respected.”

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The Ansins have also sponsored Unity Weekend, which brings kids from all over the city to play basketball and build friendships, every year. And Gallagher said they did much more than drop off a check.

“They would show up and they would spend the day. They would get to know the kids. They would get to know us. They were just like us,” Gallagher said. “They were involved. It wan’t just a monetary donation they were making. They were invested physically and mentally. They were part of everything we did.”

Ed Ansin was also invested in creating the journalists of tomorrow, funding the Ansin Center at Emerson College and funding scholarships to encourage diversity and help aspiring journalists with financial need.

And in recent years, Best Buddies became a charity close to Ed Ansin’s heart. Shriver said Ansin was instrumental in getting the charity off the ground in Miami and Hyannisport, where the annual Best Buddies Challenge bike race offers friendship, employment and leadership development for individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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“He loved our buddies. He loved people with special abilities. He was always so impressed when they would give a speech or he would find out what a good job they would do,” Shriver said. “He hired a buddy to work in the station. We did an interview together with the buddy working at the station in Miami. So, you know, he was the perfect friend, the perfect sponsor, the perfect advocate. And just a really kind, decent, wonderful human being.”

“I think it’s important for people to not only help young people but to understand what’s possible if people make an effort and work at it and mentor young people. And you know that’s what Best Buddies is all about,” Ansin said about working with the charity.

And earlier this year, Ed Ansin also came through when the coronavirus hit so many Massachusetts residents hard, donating $100,000 to the state’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. Gov. Charlie Baker said Ansin’s dedication to the news was special, but so was his dedication to the community he served.

“His family has been incredibly generous over the years to all kinds of organizations and especially those that serve kids,” Baker said. “His enthusiasm for what he did and who he was serving and what he thought local news was supposed to be all about will be terribly missed.”

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For Ansin, his reason for giving was always simple.

“A lot of people need help,” Ansin said. “Fundementally, I feel like I’m doing my job. And that’s my basic attitude.”

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