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Remembering Ed Krentzman

Posted: January 2, 2014

From Suzanne Roig’s Honolulu Advertiser article: “Ed Krentzman, Beloved Grade School Volunteer” (February 9, 2005):

“The man who students at Wai'alae Elementary School affectionately called Mr. K, or Grandpa, died Saturday. He was 75.

Ed Krentzman, co-founder of the FELLOWS — Fellowship Education Lifelong Learning Opportunities With Students — never had any children of his own. But after retirement from Pitney Bowes, he often said he adopted 400 children who attend Wai'alae Elementary School where he volunteered.

Every school day for the past seven years, Krentzman would go to the school, tutor students in math and play chess or a friendly game of hangman with kids at recess. In between he would visit other schools encouraging volunteers to form similar programs.

It was his second career, said his sister Avis Dannenberg, of Bridgeport, Conn.
"He was so dedicated to these kids," Dannenberg said yesterday. "It was his whole life. He had nothing else, except the 49ers."

Krentzman was born and raised in Bridgeport. He left for a four-year stint in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1947. After his military service, Krentzman held sales positions at Acme Visible in San Francisco and Pitney Bowes.

When he retired in Hawai'i he wanted something worthwhile to do and began volunteering at schools but soon realized that he needed more.

Armed with an idea, he took the concept of the FELLOWS program and ran with it. With the support of a principal who gave the group a classroom to serve as headquarters, the rest was history. Today the program is in 30 schools around the island and has 140 volunteers.

Senior citizens at Wai'alae have a converted classroom decorated in aloha print curtains, with a table and games, a mini-refrigerator and a bag of cookies for snacks at recess.

In 2003, Krentzman was named the nation's Outstanding Older Adult Volunteer by Generations United, an umbrella organization for programs that bring seniors and young people together.

"The biggest task ahead for us is to figure out how to keep the program going," said Mae Mendelson, Hawai'i Intergenerational Network executive director, who helped found the FELLOWS program. "It is Ed's legacy. I am so shocked."

"We heard almost immediately," Wai'alae School principal Wendy Lagareta said. "He taught so many children how to play chess, and he would rejoice with them when a student beat him. He was really a wonderful person, a grandpa for our school. We'll really miss him."