B.J. Westman, 89, theatrical press agent, volunteer

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B.J. Westman in the late 1990s.

BY ALBERT AMATEAU  |  B.J. Westman, a theatrical press agent and longtime volunteer with the Jefferson Market Garden and at the former St. Vincent’s Hospital who was known to his friends as Buddy, died April 12, a month before his 90th birthday.

He died in a Beth Israel Hospital luxury suite with hospice care, said his friend Susan Quist, a fellow Jefferson Market gardener.

“He had as good a death as he had a life,” said Quist. “I think he willed it at the end.”

“We were going to celebrate Buddy’s 90th birthday at the garden on May 12, but it will be a memorial service for him,” said Allen J. Pilikian, vice chairperson of the garden at the corner of Greenwich and Sixth Aves.

The noon memorial will be held inside the Jefferson Market Library in case of rain, Pilikian said.

Bernard J. Westman (“Only his mother called him Bernard,” said Quist) was born and raised in Brooklyn and entered Columbia University at age 17.

“He was a composer and playwright, and while he was at Columbia he was an assistant to Aaron Copland at the Tanglewood Music Festival during the summer,” said Quist.

As a press agent, Westman promoted a diverse group of clients, including the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Jim Henson’s Muppets and David Merrick, the Broadway producer.

“He met some fabulous people, including Edna St. Vincent Millay and Benny Goodman, whose 1960 Carnegie Hall concert he promoted,” Quist said.

Westman became a volunteer at the Jefferson Market Garden garden in the early 1980s.

“Buddy was very garrulous,” Pilikian said. “He started as a gatekeeper with a partner welcoming garden visitors and got on the board of directors around 1985,” Pilikian said. “He was on the board until 2009 when he resigned after his hearing began to go. But he continued on our board of advisors.”

Quist recalled, “The first time I went to the garden, seeking comfort and escape shortly after 9/11, Buddy was a gatekeeper and invited me in with my Yorkshire terrier.”

He was a gatekeeper partner with Tenney Walsh and later was her partner as a volunteer gardener. Quist was his partner at the garden gate in recent years.

At St. Vincent’s Hospital, Buddy Westman was an emergency room volunteer. In 1998, St. Vincent’s honored him for 5,000 hours of volunteering at the hospital. He described his St. Vincent’s experience as “my favorite job,” said Quist.

His beloved niece, Deborah Caudle, of Forest Hills, survives.

Tax-deductible contributions may be made in Westman’s memory to the Jefferson Market Garden, 70 A Greenwich Ave., PMB 372, New York, N.Y. 10011-8358.

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