Ed Silverman remembered vividly the day he looked up and watched a dirigible pass over his New Jersey home. He was 10, but didn’t think much of it. Yet little did that boy know that a short time later, that airship would crash in a field outside Lakehurst, and that the Hindenburg would become a permanent fixture in history.
Silverman and history would ultimately become regular companions through the journalist’s life, giving him a front-row seat to everything from Jackie Robinson’s first game as a Brooklyn Dodger to handing President Harry Truman a cupcake for his birthday. He’d go on to win 11 Emmys, primarily for his reporting work on ABC News, and would spend his later years a regular fixture of Op-Ed page right here in The Riverdale Press.
Silverman had one last story to tell, however, about his months-long battle with colon cancer. It was one battle even he couldn’t win, passing away Saturday in Riverdale. He was 94.
By the time Silverman sat down for an interview with The Press in May 2010, he already was a regular contributor to the paper, sharing many of the stories he covered and witnessed over a 60-year career.
Stories like the last one he shared in January 2016 about a midair collision in 1960 that created airplane crash sites on both Staten Island and in Park Slope.
“When I arrive at the Brooklyn site, it is like a scene out of Dante’s ‘Inferno,'” Silverman wrote. “Smoke, fire, destruction, death, devastation. It is, at the same time, surreal.”
The crash involved a TWA Constellation prop plane and a United Airlines DC 8, killing dozens of people, including some residents of the crowded Brooklyn neighborhood.
But what Silverman remembered the most was one victim, a 12-year-old boy from Chicago named Steven Baltz, who somehow survived the crash. First responders heard his cries for help and were able to pull him out of the snow. Sadly, however, that wouldn’t be enough.
“We are told that while Steven fought gallantly, his injuries were too much for any human body to sustain.
“There is not a dry eye among the hardened media.”
Silverman also joked that he helped save the world from nuclear destruction when, he shared his Cuban cigar with President John F. Kennedy at the height of the Cuban missile crisis.
Silverman was born in Jersey City in 1924, later moving to Dallas. He joined the U.S. Navy during World War II, earning an assignment in Hawaii, where he was a featherweight boxer.
He found work afterward in New York, first in sports, and later in news, working his way up the ABC ladder. Later in his life, he worked for mayors John Lindsay and Abraham Beame.
He is survived by his daughter Vicky (and husband Herbert), son Jan (and wife Lynn), four grandchildren — Diana, Lexi, Samuel and Julie — and three great-grandchildren: Elijah, Ezra and Asher.
He was married to Lila for 39 years, before she passed away in 1994. His partner of 34 years, Rhoda, survives.
— Additional reporting by Simone Johnson.