08/29/2015 2:06PM

Noted PR executive Lewi dies at 81

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Ed Lewi, a pioneer in public relations in the Capital Region whose agency assisted in media relations and marketing efforts for the New York Racing Association for more than  four decades, died Saturday after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. He was 81.

Lewi was the founder of Ed Lewi Associates, an agency that in addition to managing media relations for the XIII Olympic Games, contributed to the success and popularity of Saratoga Race Course, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom, a local attraction and water park.

“He helped put Saratoga on the map,” said celebrated philanthropist, Thoroughbred owner, and breeder Marylou Whitney. “Saratoga is the place it is today because of Ed Lewi.”

“Ed led a wonderful life, the type of life that people should aspire to lead. He was a true gentleman and philanthropist, and Marylou and I were honored to call him our best friend, along with his beloved wife, Maureen,” said John Hendrickson. “He gave millions of people joy and fun, and we are forever grateful for his exuberant spirit, youthful enthusiasm, and boundless energy.”

In 2010, Ed and Maureen Lewi sold the company to current agency president Mark Bardack.

Lewi began his communications career as a sports writer for the Daily Gazette. He also worked for the Associated Press and United Press International. During an 18-year tenure with the Albany Times Union, he served in several marketing and advertising capacities.

Lewi is survived by his wife, Maureen; sons, Jim and Joe; daughters-in-law, Lori and Melissa; and grandchildren, Gwen, Melanie, Emma, and Jacob.