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Remembering The Collector of Bedford Street

The following biography was printed in Larry Selman’s memorial service program. Special thanks to The Bedford Barrow Commerce Block Association for honoring Larry Selman with such enthusiasm.

Larry Selman - April 2, 1942 to January 20, 2013

The only son of Minnie and Philip Selman, Larry grew up in East New York. There, with his father, he learned to be a volunteer and help others. He attended Thomas Jefferson High School and later worked for the parks department. After his parents died, Larry was briefly institutionalized at Pilgrim State.

His beloved Uncle Murray Schaul removed him from the institution and found the apartment for Larry on Bedford Street. For over 25 years, Murray watched over Larry, prepared meals, and took care of Larry’s needs. Larry made many close friends in the neighborhood including now deceased Peggy Monahan. Larry went through some rough times and some lonely times, almost losing his apartment. He watched the block, participated in parades, loved social gatherings, and constantly collected money for his favorite charities, among which were: Multiple Sclerosis, American Cancer Society, the AIDS Walk, Saint Vincent’s Pediatric AIDS Clinic, Autism Research at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, JASA Pet Services, Variety Charities and the NY Fire Department Fund for the Children of Joseph Graffangnino. He is remembered for his tireless volunteer work for the Bedford Barrow Commerce Block Association.

When Larry’s uncle was no longer able to care for him, the BBC Block Association established a trust through the UJA-Federation Community Trust for Disabled Adults. It was the first time that a community, rather than an individual’s family, did this. In 2002, a short documentary, The Collector of Bedford Street, about Larry was nominated for an Academy Award and played on HBO. The film and Larry’s leadership in his community is used by Kiwanis International to train students all over the world. Over his lifetime, Larry collected over $300,000 for charities and the BBC. It was often said if we measured hearts instead of IQ’s, Larry would have been off the charts. 

Donations for Larry's memorial gravestone are gratefully accepted. To make a tax-deductible contribution write a check to the BBC (Bedford Barrow Commerce Block Association), c/o Alice Elliott, 107 Bedford Street, upper one, NY, NY 10014.