Extraordinary collectorLarry Selman

At 16, a school teacher told Selman he was unlikely to ever get a high school diploma, because he was mentally retarded (his IQ was estimated at 62). So Selman dropped out of school. He was determined to live life on his own and, once his parents died, he lived in a small Greenwich Village (N.Y.) apartment for most of his life. His life’s work was to help those who were worse off than he was. He’d solicit $1 and $2 donations from people on the street for various charities: the local Catholic hospital, Kiwanis, Muscular Distrophy, 9/11 victims, AIDS patients, animal groups, and more. In all, it’s estimated he raised $300,000 in his lifetime for charity. Selman’s “collection” efforts were made public by a 2002 documentary, The Collector of Bedford Street, which was nominated for an Academy Award (Documentary Short Subject). “Larry, in effect, made our community,” said the film’s director, Alice Elliott. “He was our glue.” Selman died January 20, apparently from a heart attack, at 70.

From This is True for 27 January 2013