My (Greg’s) friend Drew Halevy died yesterday. Word passed quickly via social media, and I was surprised at how many of our friends from Port Washington he had kept in touch with. Drew had a gift for light occasional social connections, and always had an interest in major events of his friends lives.
The last time we spoke on the phone, just a couple of weeks ago, we talked about his nearing completion on his next graduate degree, and his passion for travel with his son, Max. Max recently reached an age where extended trips were pleasant and educational, and Drew spent much of the last year touring abroad.
We also talked about him approaching his 50th birthday. He’s a little over 2 months older than me, and was always one of the earlier birthdays at school.
I first met Drew Philip Halevy in 7th grade, when we both started at Weber Junior High School in Port Washington. We had gone to different elementary schools, which fed the same Junior High. Drew and I hit it off immediately, and were close pals all the way through high school. We shared a locker for several years, and often spent time together after school.
Drew’s dad lived in Glenwood Landing, a few miles away. Drew and his two brothers, Barry and Ross, mostly lived with his mom but regularly visited and overnighted with his dad. His mom, Patty, lived in a house just one block from the high school.
By the time we were in high school, our circle of mutual friends had expanded even further. Since Drew’s house was next to the school, it was a great place for friends to leave their bicycles in the morning, and convenient for after-school socializing. Since Patty was sometimes away, it was also the location for a number of unsupervised parties and general socializing. Barry, his older brother, would sometimes be part of the hang-out crowd.
Drew and I shared a brief life of crime, and then mostly rehabilitated ourselves. It wasn’t criminal intent that drove us, but a simple case of teenage existentialism and impatience for what we hoped life would bring us.
In 9th grade or so, I introduced Drew to Jack Loveland. Jack was in his mid-70s, and a fascinating character and friend. Drew and I brought an expanded set of friends to Jack. We cut his lawn, learned about things like metal and electrical work, and enjoyed playing poker and other relaxations. Jack taught us a lot about life, and Drew and I very frequently used some of Jack’s favorite phrases. When Jack was dying, in 1994 I think, Drew, another friend, Jason, and me went on an epic road trip to Baton Rouge to visit him on his deathbed. Drew and I made a lot of road trips. It was a way of not staying still (which Drew had trouble with, though this decreased in later years), and a way of gaining new experiences, seeing new places, and meeting new people.
After high school, Drew and I didn’t live in the same cities any more, but still saw each other frequently. Patty had remarried, and was living near Greensboro, NC. I visited there with Drew several times, and enjoyed Patty’s vegan cooking and lifestyle. I was at school in Albany, then Syracuse. We visited frequently via road trips, while he moved to the Washington DC area and elsewhere – always in pursuit of higher education, his passion and constant companion.
Towards the end of my time at Syracuse University, I met my wife-to-be, Ilana. I had already taken my first faculty position, at the University of Illinois, when Ilana and I got to know each other. Drew and I drove the rental truck with my stuff from Syracuse to Urbana, and we talked about Ilana. “Maybe she’s the one?” “Could be…” she was, of course, and subsequently moved out to live with me, and we married next year. Drew, along with another long-time friend, were my “best” at my wedding in July 1992.
Drew got married just a few months later, to Dianna. I met her only a few times, including at their marriage celebration, and visited them in Arkansas. I never got to meet Max, though saw pictures and heard some stories as he was growing up. The last time I saw Drew was in 2013, when we met for a few hours near Dallas.
My experience with Drew was he was always mildly discontent with how much he knew, and when we spoke he was often wrestling with questions of how he could improve the world. His lifelong career was pursuit of higher education, with a series of graduate degrees and also informal education, particularly related to history, museums, and geography. His formal career, which he was easing out of for the past year or two, was teaching.
We used to joke that for two kids who made a huge ruckus at school, and even got kicked out together (remember the brief life of crime?), we both ended up with careers as educators. (Luckily no charges were filed, and we both graduated on time!)
Drew and I were in continuous contact for longer than any other friend I have – from 1977 until 2014: 37 years! He was a loyal and compassionate friend, and I could always count on him to stay in touch, and stay informed about the basics of my life. Drew and I spent our formative teenage and post-teen years exploring all up and down the eastern seaboard, and gathering experiences and insights that would last a lifetime. The world is a poorer place as a result of his passing, and I’ll miss him.
Addendum: Drew was actually born in 1964, not 1965! Since the link to this article is the title, including 1965, I will not change the title. gbn