Zander Toulouse (2000-2008) was the son of Chris Toulouse (a college professor) and Bonnie Steinsnyder (an artist) and he lived in Brooklyn, New York. He was struck and killed by a post office truck on September 6th, 2008. He was a remarkable little boy. This page is about him and his very special life. It is updated every year on the anniversary of his passing, September 6th. When you think of Zander, this place will always be here, to help you remember what a wonderful little boy he was, and always will be in our hearts.
He was 8 1/2 when we lost him.
Here he is, at age 5, by the boating lake in Central Park.
Zander's sister, Ellie (Eleanor Janean) arrived 7 weeks early on December 16th, 2010. She was born with a rare condition that mixes up your wind pipe and your food pipe and has had to have many surgeries of various kinds. She spent the first 6 months of her life in the Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn and was then moved to the St Mary's Nursing Home for Children in Bayside, Queens on June 7th, 2011. She finally came home for good on November 9th, 2011.
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2016: Ellie is now 5 1/2. She continues to make progress but last winter brought two week long hospitalizations for pneumonia. This summer she has been thriving again. In the Fall she starts kindergarten at the Children's School (her fourth full year of school!)
Now more than ever, doctors call her their "miracle baby". She loves to dance and to sing and to shop, already. Looking after her is a lot of hard work (for our nurses too) but she is a source of great joy.
Our heart-felt thanks for the skill & dedication of the doctors & nurses at the Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; St Mary's Nursing Home for Children in Bayside, Queens; and the nurses of the Jacobs' Home Nursing Service.
Zander's grandma, his Bubby, died after a long illness in April 2013. She was 76. Here she is with Zander in 2006. Oh happy days.
Bubby was a very accomplished and classy lady: she was a painter and a college teacher, an art historian, an art dealer, she ran her own store and her own sewing shop, she travelled widely and loved Paris, she loved to cook and spoke French, and above all else, she loved her grandson. Zander's very favorite times were when he would go to Philadelphia and be feted by his beloved bubby and her retinue of friends who were always so glad to see him. Whenever he came home we were delighted to see him and he was crushed to be back with his dull parents. Now Zander & Bubby are together again.
Bubby with Zander in 2002 and Elly in 2012.
Zander's grandad died on March 10th, 2012. He was 86. Here he is with Zander in 2006. Oh happy days.
Zander's grandad worked very hard all his working life to give his sons (Zander's Dad Chris and his brother Garry) the best education possible. He started as a skilled tool maker and ended as a production manager with a defense firm. We weren't always the easiest kids to raise but his hard work really paid off in what we've been able to give back to others in our working lives (Chris teaches at Fordham and Garry is a provost at the University of Teeside in Northern England).
Grandad retired early in 1989 and very much enjoyed his retirement. He was an avid gardener and home handyman and he & my Mom vacationed all over Europe and went to many parts of the United States I have yet to get to myself. It had its highs and lows (esp. his beloved grandson's death) but it was a very full and fulfilling life.
We are still forwarding donations to the Zander Fund to the ballroom dancing program at PS29. We want to thank everyone for their kind generosity.
The last $1,700 of the Zander Fund was set aside to spend on Dad's students at Fordham. Dad set up a Yoga & Meditation Club for the students to expose them to the breathing & stretching exercises that we have found so helpful in adjusting to our lives without Zander. We would like to thank yoga instructor Claire Larsen for her help.
As always we want to thank our family and friends and the people of the neighborhood for their support. We know everyone remembers Zander, and that people are thinking about him everyday, and his famous smile, and the way he talked with his cadences and repetitions, and his particular way of looking at things, and his unfailing politeness. We know everyone misses him, just as we do, and they still love him very much.
Zander introduces the Jersey City Field Trip. Shot in January 2008.
Dad's favorite. Funny!
Zander introduces the Times Square Field Trip. Shot in January 2008.
Zander dancing on the Long Island Rail Road.
Zander wins the dance competition at the Astrograss concert, January 2006.
Zander's piano recital, June 2008.
How important was 'Dancing with the Stars' to Zander?
See him here with his birthday presents March 2008
Here is more of Astrograss and their new video which shows off what wonderful FUN they are. Brooklyn Bluegrass was a part of Zander's life thanks to his piano teacher and Astrograss band member, Jordan Shapiro. Our many thanks to Jordan who has dedicated his last two birthday concerts to the Zander Fund and ballroom dancing at PS29. Our thanks, and the kids' thanks, and Zander's special thanks to Jordan!
Brooklyn Poet Laureate, Ken Siegelman, reads Zander's 'There's No One Like Me'.
With thanks to Natalie & Andi.
There's No One Like Me by Zander Toulouse
Nobody's like me For all my special reasons
For example: A board game
To me there is nothing like a nice board game.
I always like my bath water hot.
I always like trains.
I LOVE to dance a lot.
Blue is my favorite color.
I am the pride of the world.
I know I can be a problem.
But I am very useful sometimes.
Our many thanks to the following for their kindness & generosity:
- Ms. Barbara and Ms. Atlanta from the American Ballroom Theater and the 4th and 5th grade teachers of PS29. - PS 29 and Principal Melanie Woods. - The John N. Blackman, Sr. Foundation which paid for the 5th grade dance lessons. - Chris & Bonnie would like to thank Natalie Giles for her help in making the 4th grade dance lessons possible. - The pupils and parents of the 4th and 5th grades at PS 29. - Jordan Schapiro, Zander's piano teacher, and his birthday benefit concerts 2009 and 2010.
It was so much fun to see all Zander's friends again and to see them dance like he wouldn't have thought was possible. As he would have put it, they were so great! We were so pleased and we know he would have been too. Thank you to everyone for putting on such a fantastic show. (Although I think Bonnie's Mom probably had it right when she said he would have complained that there was no paso doble).
So far the fund established in Zander's name has given around $7180 to PS 29 to help with ballroom dance lessons for Zander's 4th grade class and $900 to Fordham University for awards to faculty for service to the eloquentia perfecta requirement in the new Core Curriculum.
You can make an online credit card donation to the Zander Fund for ballroom dancing at PS 29 by registering at NYcharities.org and making a donation to "Parents and Teachers Association of PS 29 Inc" in the name of the "Zander Fund".
You can make a donation by check by making out a check to the PTA of PS29 (for "the Zander Fund") and sending it to PS29, 425 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY. 11201 (attention Natalie Giles).
The PS 29 PTA has a line item in its budget for the "Zander Fund" and right now the money is for 4th grade ballroom dancing lessons next year.
Many thanks to Jen Chapin for the wonderful moving concert she gave at Jalopy on Saturday 14th November 2009. Thank you also to my student Michael Kaplan for making the arrangements. We raised $560 for the Zander Fund.
Jen Chapin in concert at Jalopy.
Family & friends enjoying the beautiful music.
It has been very important to me this long and lonely year not to let the sudden and terrible manner of Zander's passing eclipse the wonderful meaning of his life and the inspiration he gave to so many.
That is why I have worked so hard on my childrens' story. It features a little boy based on Zander as its central character. Zander is a wonderful "straight man" to write funny characters around and this is the kind of ghost story that would have made him laugh because the ghosts are afraid of children and the grown-ups need a lot of help. There are also no end of the bad puns ("frightening the life out of the dead" and so on) that would have made him giggle.
I wanted to do something special that would never have happened had he not been taken from us. The story gives me a way to share in the fun of knowing of him and to celebrate what a special little guy he was - and in our hearts - he still is.
The Zander Calendar 2008 - Mar 08 - Best shots from 2007-08.
The Philosophy of the Telectroscope - Jun 08 - But what - exactly - are we looking at?
The Mermaids' Day Parade, 2008 - Jun 08 - Creatures from other planets, and what's really important about Coney Island...
A Day Trip to Montauk - Aug 08 - Our mission to ride to end of every LIRR line continues...
THE FUNERAL: The funeral service for Zander was on Wednesday, September 10th, 2008, at 1:15pm at Riverside Memorial Chapel, 180 W. 76th St. NYC (Amsterdam and 76th St.) Our sincerest gratitude to all who were able to attend. It was a beautiful service and it seemed like there were a thousand people in the chapel. We were deeply moved to see how many people Zander's life had touched and take solace in knowing that so many people were inspired by him.
OPEN HOUSE: The family received visitors Wednesday September 10th and all day Thursday September 11the, 2008, into the evening. Thank you to all who came to see us. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of neighbors and friends, and thank everyone for all the flowers and hampers and drink they sent and brought with them to entertain our guests. We thank you for your love. Zander lives on in our hearts!
THE MEMORIAL: A Memorial was held for Zander at Fordham University at Lincoln Center on Friday 21st November 2008, 4.15-5.00PM, in Lowenstein Hall in the 12th floor conference room. The Memorial was a great success and we were very pleased and relieved. It was a chance for the Lincoln Center community to share memories of Zander but also to catch up with old friends. People were able to look at the pictures and videos of Zander and laugh and smile and we were very grateful for that.
and find out what an amazing little guy he was.
-> Click here for News Accounts from the day and a Copy of the Traffic Court Judgment.
'Daily News', September 15th, 2008 'Hearts broken at PS29 over death of Alexander Toulouse'.
'The Fordham Observer', Oct 1st, 2008 'Remembering Zander Toulouse'.
Children killed by Drivers:
This page has received 24111 hits since September 7, 2008, 88 postings as of Oct 14, 2008 (09:00:38 EDT).