OBITUARY

Alan E. Pottinger

July 6, 1964September 13, 2021

Alan Edward Pottinger died tragically and suddenly on September 13, 2021 at the age of 57. A gifted poet, writer, actor and creative arts therapist, with impeccable comedic timing and profound and encyclopedic knowledge, he would have written a much better obituary for himself.

Alan was born July 6, 1964 in New York City and spent his childhood in Queens, New York, getting into mild amounts of trouble in cahoots with his brother David, who tragically predeceases him. Alan was raised by the formidable Carolee, a single mother, with the support of his beloved babysitter Bessie.

A voracious reader and thespian from an early age, Alan found his passion in the performing arts. In 1982, Alan graduated from New York City High School of the Performing Arts (subject of the film Fame (1980) in which you can catch a glimpse of Al) where he thrived and made lifelong friends who share exceptional talent.

In 1986, Alan earned his BFA in Theatre Arts and Film at SUNY Purchase, where he was a graduate of the Professional Actor Training Program. There, Alan was a founding member of the Euclid Hose Company, an on-campus theater group dedicated to performing short plays; befitting the energy and passion of that age, he performed, wrote and directed for the company, probably, in most cases, all at once.

Since 1986, Alan was a freelance actor and proud member of SAG-AFTRA and the Actors Equity Association. Alan delivered memorable performances on- and off-stage. Film credits include Biloxi Blues (1988), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989), Dead Poets Society (1989), Reversal of Fortune (1980), and MacBeth in Manhattan (1999). To the particular delight of his family, Alan starred in an AT&T commercial as a young college jock who ends the commercial on a pay phone (remember those?) in the college lounge, whispering into the receiver “Mommy, I miss you.” As much as Alan enjoyed performing for the big screen, the small stage was his favorite. His stage credits include productions at The Public Theatre, The New York Acting Unit, Manhattan Punch Line, HERE, Syracuse Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and Provincetown Playhouse.

Like every good New York City actor, Alan bartended on the side, including a stint at Muffin’s Pub in Manhattan, a gig he shared with his brother David. After David’s untimely death at Muffin’s in 1991, Alan was inspired to redirect his talents to serve the public good.

In 2001, Alan earned his Master of Arts in Creative Arts Therapy from New York University, with a focus on Drama Therapy. He did a one-year fellowship with the NYU Psychoanalytic Institute and became an Educator Associate at NYC DOE P-35 at Bellevue Hospital Center, where he would spend the rest of his esteemed career, and where a part of him will always live on through his beloved colleagues.

As an Assistant Director of Psychiatry and then Assistant Director of Creative Arts Therapies at Bellevue, Alan supervised the programming and Licensed Creative Arts as well as Occupational

Therapists on the Adult Male Prison/Forensic Unit, Child and Adolescent Units both in-patient and out-patient, along with the Adult Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program. Alan also served as Chairman of the Psychiatric Consumer Advisory Board and taught Masters Level Occupational and Pastoral Counseling and Therapy Students. Alan created safe spaces and helped patients deal with myriad trauma and deprivation through improvisation and storytelling, one-act plays, and advanced mask work. He was also Co-Director of the Spirituality group initiatives on all adult in patient units. An avid pet lover, especially of his beloved border collie Daisy May Moon, his cat Sister Mary Godzilla, and adopted father of David’s chocolate labrador Shelby, Alan was responsible for pet therapy and AA and NA meetings on the forensic unit. In addition, Alan ran an afterschool poetry program on the Lower East Side for over a decade.

Alan rightfully took great pride in his work, sometimes quietly sharing accolades with his mother and sister. He once wrote of his work with child and adolescent patients:

“They are lifted up one at a time. When we win here. When we send a child back on course. Back to a path of self-evolving; we too are blessed to share in that vision. Statistically, we may sometimes lose more than we win. We are few and the pitfalls of the world are legion. Whenever I get blue and feel just what is the point? When one tough day follows another. When I bear witness to narratives that make me ashamed to be human; I remind myself it is not my task this day to save them all. To heal all the wounded children around me.

Just one.

And If I but try, I will have become, in my own eyes; less ashamed of my culpability in the shortcomings of humanity. And I can celebrate that one victory and humbly pray for one more.”

In the winter months, Alan was Santa Claus. Making magical appearances originally at Macy’s Herald Square and later at Bellevue.

In his spare time, Alan read. Everything. Alan would unobtrusively rattle off stanzas of Shakespeare, Homer, Chekov, The Bible. From memory. And he wrote. Alan’s gift for the written word was beyond compare. While initially hesitant to join the masses on Facebook, he eventually did, and shared his beautiful prose and, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the harrowing first-hand experiences of the front-line workers with anyone lucky enough to know him and follow him. His family will also miss the cast of characters and eye-watering comic routines that can’t live on without Alan (e.g. the ladies on Fr. Capatano Boulevard in Staten Island; Joey Bag-o-Doughnuts; “Come on Joey, it’s f****n’ Eastah!” from South Ozone Park; the Hindi and Asian neighbors in Flushing; sock puppet video birthday greetings for his nephews).

Among many other dear friends and family, Alan is survived by his mother and life-long champion, Carolee Hildenbrandt, her husband George Hildenbrandt, his sister Carolyn Rincon

and her husband Oscar RIncon, his two nephews (their Goomba Al) Mateo and Sebastian Rincon, and his special person Maria Stasallo, who he was very much in love with.

Only Alan’s own words could do his obituary justice. When writing of the loss of his dog Daisy, Alan wrote,

“If you have ever had DOG, writ large in your life then you know what kind of bond forms…. I can only pray that when my great getting up morning comes, the first thing I will hear when my eyes close for the last time; will be the soft thwump of her tail signaling me it's time to go play in the fields and among the birds and trees.”

Play in peace, dear Alan. Namaste.

Alan was inspired by all religions and walks of faith. A private visitation for Alan will be held Saturday, September 18, 2021 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Frederick Funeral Home, 192-15 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, NY 11358. At 11am, he will receive blessings in the Catholic and Buddhist faiths, prior to his cremation. A live stream of the blessing will be available at https://www.facebook.com/FrederickFuneralHomeFlushing.

Family and friends of Alan who would like to pay tribute and visit with his family are invited to attend and encouraged to participate in a lively memorial celebration of Alan’s life that is being planned for the near future, to be held in the garden of Bellevue Hospital. Details to follow.

To further honor Alan, donations in his memory can be made to Children of Bellevue (childrenofbellevue.org). On the website, please write Alan’s name in the “In Memory Of” section and ask for the donation to be “restricted to“ or “for child/adolescent psychiatry.” Donations by check can also be made, please write ”In Memory of Alan Pottinger, and to Psychiatry” in the memo.

Services

PREVIOUS SERVICES:

  • Visitation

    Saturday, September 18, 2021

    VIEW VIDEO

OTHER SERVICES:

  • Private Cremation

Memories

Alan E. Pottinger

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Peter Lopez

October 17, 2021

Alan and I first became friends in junior high school in Flushing Queens. We've remained friends through much of our lifetime weaving in and out of each other's lives. His skill for the written word was profound and at my mothers funeral he sent this sentiment that I cannot help but steal and use for him as it is so fitting.

Alan was a wonder. It is difficult to imagine a world without him. He was truly one of a kind and my world is diminished with his passing."

I will miss my good friend Alan, as will much of the world. A friend of a lifetime and for all time. Until we meet again my friend, I hope to be laughing with you once again.

Peter

Rosalind Ackies

October 7, 2021

Rest In Peace Alan. You were such an inspiration to the Ackies family. Sleep until we meet again our dear friend and tenant.

Tia Ellis

September 22, 2021

Alan. Oh, Alan. You were larger than life.
A great mentor, and friend — your energy can only be described as majestic.

You cared so deeply about the children at Bellevue and you poured your all into your work. I will forever cherish all the lessons you’ve taught me.

God speed, Alan. God speed.

Tira Bluestone

September 18, 2021

RIP Alan
💔
I miss you so much…
And yet, there was so much more to know of you
❤️
I DO know, to KNOW you is to
L❤️VE you
Because you made me love you too!
❤️
I know you were cute
I know you were smart
I know you were funny too
❤️
And I know the world
Is a better place
❤️
Because of your L❤️VE…
And because of YOU!
❤️
Love
Tira
❤️
We have met before
And, we will meet again so,
…Until that time, my beloved friend

Abenis Salomon

September 18, 2021

Alan had always a word to push people to say " I can make it. " He will be missed.

Eric Teitel

September 18, 2021

Reading all of these powerful messages, my anger and pain at how Alan left us are soothed by the overwhelming memory of him to so many as an amazingly resilient, thoughtful, creative, and thoroughly generous man. He was a force...able to reorient himself and so many others towards love, light and positivity. Those of us that had him in their lives are fortunate, and better off because of him. Thank you for the impressive example, Alan—you'll be deeply missed.

Mary Wood

September 18, 2021

Alan and I went often to the Jamaica Bay wildlife refuge. He knew seemingly everything about the plants and animals and would tell me all about them as we walked the paths. One morning we came upon a flock of birds on a pond. We stood there watching them for a long, peaceful moment, then Alan declared, "We have just attended bird church". 💕

Barbara GLICK

September 17, 2021

I never got to meet Alan but he was recommended to me as a friend on Facebook to get me through Covid Along with everybody else. A friend of his suggested that I read his experiences of it. It was moving and he got so many people through a horrible time. I’m a better person for having interacted with Alan on Facebook. We both went to the same high school but at different times. I’m so angry at the way he died but grateful at the way he lived. He inspired so many people to live through these horrible times.

Rest in power, Alan! Maybe I’ll get to meet you in the next world but would have preferred for you to stay in this one.

Michael McGuire

September 17, 2021

Alan was my best friend in high school and all through teenage into our twenties. He was my mate, my soul brother, my comrade. There were times we were inseparable, which was not always the best thing for us or anyone else in close proximity, but there it is. Later, after college we lived within a half a block of each other, and we spent our days trying to navigate the unpredictable world of first being on your own. I was with Alan through some of the worst tragedies a family can endure. Alan's pain was like a thief that kept returning to the scene of the crime to steal more goods, but Alan never let that thief rob him of the opportunity to help and heal others through his work. He was a sentry at the gate- and, in my perspective the champions belt goes to you Alan. In later years our engagement in each other's lives languished, but our love for each other never did. I must now make room for his absence and the fact that there is no possibility he and I will ever sit across the table from one another again. I will think of you often Alan, my brother and miss you with every thought.
Cajun.

Daniel Scanlon

September 17, 2021

Alan was the type of guy who really listened to people....all people....and always did the right thing for all of us at Bellevue.
I sincerely appreciated his friendship and kindness.

FROM THE FAMILY