DEY Advisory Board Member Edgar Klugman Passes Away

An elderly man with a friendly expression wearing a blue shirt and blazer at an indoor event.

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Edgar Klugman, a member of DEY’s Advisory Board. Dr. Klugman passed away on February 10, 2024, leaving behind a legacy of dedication and excellence in early childhood education. His contributions to DEY will be greatly missed, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones during this difficult time.

We share some of his obituary from his daughter Kerri Klugman, remarks from DEY co-founder and vice president of the board Diane Levin, and memories from former student and DEY National Advisor Peter Rawitsch. You can read his obituary here.

From his daughter Kerri Klugman

Ed graduated from NYU in 1950 with a BS in elementary education and in 1952 with an MA in principal administration in elementary education. Upon graduation, Ed taught elementary school in upstate New York. He says he was the only male teacher, and the building had no men’s restrooms! In his classroom, he had Chatterbox, the rooster, and a Hen. The daily chores for the students included cleaning the cage and collecting the eggs – which led to a wedding! (If you haven’t heard that story – do ask!) Learning had come alive for Ed… and he was committed to helping his students (of all ages) learn through playing!

During these years, Ed earned his doctorate from Columbia University. A professor there asked Ed if he wanted to go to Afghanistan to help work as “a methods and materials specialist” for their Department of Education. He quickly said YES, and Hertha agreed! Later Ed reflected: “I didn’t know what that meant, but I figured it out on the job!” He and Hertha spent three years there. Upon returning in 1958, Ed soon became a principal. He also became a dad, welcoming Kerri Anne and Tamara Lynn.

In 1969, Ed accepted a teaching position at Wheelock College in Boston, MA. He and Hertha bought a house in Newton because of the reputation of the good school system. Over his decades at Wheelock, Ed taught a freshman seminar, organizational theory; a class on sustainable living on Martha’s Vineyard; and a policy & practice class where the students had to draft a bill and try to get it passed by the state legislature. One of Ed’s traditions was to have the first-year students come camp in his backyard in Newton so they could bond! Ed served as an undergraduate dean. Ed was an accomplished researcher, practitioner and author, primarily on policy and play.


From Diane Levin

Ed Klugman was destined to work with young children. As a child, he was on the Kindertransport, which was a pipeline to get children safely out of Nazi Germany. Ed managed to get out. He wanted to focus on helping children and earned his degree. He came to work at Wheelock College in Boston, MA. He worked there for many years.

When I got to Wheelock, I met him, and we bonded very quickly. I was focusing on children with special needs and how trauma affects young children. I was teaching a course on the impact of violence on children and how to help them heal. Ed visited my class several times to speak with my students about his experiences.

Ed was a wonderful colleague, and I continued to see him after he retired.


From Peter Rawitsch

Dr. Klugman was my favorite professor while I was an undergraduate studying Early Childhood Education at Wheelock College in Boston. He had a kind and gentle soul. Along with A.S. Neill, Mr. Rogers, and Cookie Monster, he was one of my male educator role models. I loved how he dreamed big. Last year, he co-published The Global Healing Curriculum Project.
This is us in the 1977 Wheelock College Yearbook:

Two vintage black and white portraits: one of a man in a suit sitting and turning his head towards the camera, the other of a person leaning on a wooden fence, smiling and wearing a sweater with glasses.


Here we are at his 90th birthday celebration: (When he saw me, he said, “Here’s the activist!”)

Two smiling men, one with a boutonniere, posing for a photo together indoors.