Monday, January 11, 2010

In loving memory: Sheldon Feuerstein, 1929 - 2010

My father, Sheldon Feuerstein died, on Saturday, January 9, 2010 from heart failure, at the age of 80.

Dad leaves behind his wife of 53 years, Joan; sister, Lilyan; five children, Jaye (Sela), Steven, Shari (DeUrso), Laurie (Walsh) and Nina (Rosenthal); nine grandchildren, Christopher, Eli, Masada, Timnah, Danielle, Benjamin, Markus, Liana and Sally. His family was the center of his life and we all - those above and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends - mourn his passing, but celebrate a life well-lived.

Sheldon was born on October 7, 1929 to Jacob and Rose Feuerstein. He was the fourth of five children, the other four all sisters: Belle, Lilyan, Edy and Nancy (and what an odd coincidence that he had five children, and only one son among them). His father was an acclaimed pattern cutter (he would cut the original pattern of the dress, from which others were made) and my father idolized him.

Sheldon met his wife, Joan, at a dance, and that happened (according to legend) only because his friend, Stu, insisted that he come out to play. A short time later, they were married. And from then on, they were never apart. When Dad almost died in 2007 and went through a ( triple bypass + new valve - gall bladder ), Mom never left his side and helped him regain his life (and even improve on it in many ways). She was the center of his world, and he could never quite believe his luck ("I don't know why she puts up with me," he would say, shaking his head).

Sheldon was, professionally, a lawyer and CPA (certified public accountant). He practiced for decades in New York, and then relocated with Joan to Florida in 1996. As an accountant, he also taught himself computer programming, in particular RPG on an AS400, and built his own custom applications to manage his clients' financial affairs. That probably doesn't mean much to some of you, but his son (aka, me), a professional computer programmer, was way beyond impressed that he could do this!

He was a man of many interests and talents, and without a doubt he felt that his first calling, his great passion, was for art and not numbers. While he was not able to remain in the school, his acceptance into the Cooper Union School of Art as a young man remained a point of pride for him his whole life. He was an accomplished painter and his work graces the walls of Joan and Sheldon's home in Boynton Beach, as well as many other homes and some synagogues.

Sheldon approached the world with avid curiosity and was always interested to learn more, especially in the sciences. His passions (besides his family and his artwork) over the years ranged from chess and model airplanes, to photography (he built a dark room in his basement) and astronomy.

He played an active role in each synagogue of which he was a member, from the Suffolk Jewish Center in Deer Park , NY to Temple Torah in Boynton Beach. Israel, its land and people, figured large in his life. His several visits to Israel always excited him and never satisfied him. He longed to visit "one last time," but his health did not permit this.

Family was such a big part of his life. When he grew up and when we (my sisters and I) were growing up, the extended Feuerstein family (including Schuckmans, Knollers, Kleins and Gventers) would gather on a weekly basis or more frequently, for barbecues, holidays, birthdays and so on. It was a wonderful way to be raised, and I miss it. That was definitely one of the drawbacks to moving to Chicago: I moved away from most of my family in New York.

As a Dad to his only son, my father went to great lengths to both share his passions with me and also to ensure that I enjoyed other activities that he thought were important for me, though they might not be his forte. Namely: doing things outdoors. My dad was a bit of a desk potato and workaholic (gee, I guess that's where I got my "work ethic" from), but he enrolled me in the Cub Scouts, then Boy Scouts, and went on many camping trips with me. These were not his favorite thing to do, but he did them because he felt they were the right thing to do. I am so glad he did, and sad that I did not make more of an effort to do the like with my own children.

But I will always remember lying side by side in sleeping bags on a clear cold night in the woods, with snowflakes falling down over us, looking up at the stars. There had been some screw-up and so we didn't have a tent, but we didn't mind. It was wonderful.

My dad had a long (but not long enough), full (but there always room for more), successful life, surrounded by those he loved and loved himYou can see many photos of my dad, from all throughout his life, here. Perhaps best of all, you can enjoy his artwork here.

I miss him more than words can say.


reMARKable said...

an elegant elegy, Steve . . . from an early age I was impressed by that commanding presence, that resonant voice, that subtle sparkle of dry wit, and, of course, that "Revolutionary" artwork! When I think on Sheldon, the word STRENGTH loom large (come to think of it, so does LARGE . . . as in "larger-than-life"!) - if one measure of a man is by the lives he had a hand in molding, his progeny, well, I can think of no greater or lasting memorial than you five . . . may I myself, day by day, be ever more worthy of the blessing that is "family" . . . and may we all carry a piece of the man's STRENGTH in the days, months and years ahead . . . Sheldon Feuerstein, quite simply: a Mensch!

With love and respect,
Mark Plastrik

Noons said...

Sorry to hear about this, Steven.
I lost my father in 2003 after a horrible illness and am still bouncing back.

One thing I've found helps: write down, in a sort of family book, all you remember while he was alive. Little bits of history, moments you both shared, what have you.

Odds on one of your children will one day want to know details about his life, you then have it all ready for them.

Believe me, I wish I had a similar source for the rest of my family, long gone. It's worth it.

Steven Feuerstein said...

Thanks, Mark. What a wonderful tribute to my dad. It's funny, I was thinking about him this evening, trying to step back and look at his whole life...and that is precisely the word that came to mind: Mensch.

I feel very fortunate to have had him as my father.

Steven Feuerstein said...

And thank you, Noons. That is a great idea. I agree completey and plan to attach my webcam to my laptop and record memories of (I hope) every person who joins us for shiva after the funeral.

yas said...

Sorry to hear about this Steven.

My Test Blog said...


I am so very sorry for your loss. We've had the opportunity to share a lot of experiences these past 10+ years but I wish having to share the loss of our fathers just weeks apart could not have been one of them. Please know that Connie and I are available should you need anything.


Islam said...

Sorry to hear about this

Tmyers said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I lost my mother 2 1/2 years ago and still miss her everyday.
One thing you could do to help celebrate your father's life is have all his kids and/or grandkids take a 'survey' about him. i.e. favorite past time, favorite food, favorite saying,etc. Get creative. It can really be fun to get to see how different people see the same person.
My heart goes out to you and your family.

Tammy Myers

Pedro Leite said...

my dearest sympathies and regrets Steven...lovely elegy..It gives the res of us mortals..that you really care fo your father..

Peter Kessler said...

I'm a huge fan of your classic work on PL/SQL.
Steve, Your dad *is* proud of you. During your time of loss and for your family remember Freud's observation: You really never end a relationship with a lost loved one, grief is a transitional time as the relationship changes. I lost my father when I was 12 years old in 1979. My relationship continues to evolve with my dad. Best wishes to you sir.

__joel__ said...

Please accept my sincere condolences...

Aman Sharma said...

There is no bigger loss than losing a parent and I just can say that I am so sorry to hear. May god give rest and peace to his soul and take him in his embrace for being such a good human being, father, husband!

I know no words can ease the pain you are into Steve! I just can say, I am so sorry over this terrible loss!


Nelson said...

My deepest sympathies for you and your family.
I had a chance to see some of the good relationship you have with your parent at the ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2007 in Orlando, and saw the wonderful face on your father when looking at his wife.
Might he rest in peace.

Dean said...

Steven, words cannot really describe the influence your father had on our entire family and those who had the opportunity to know him. We will all miss him very much. Your cousin, Dean

Beth said...

Steven I am thinking of you and your whole family today with much love. I am remembering both your father and sister Laurie with many warm childhood memories and laughter. I am so so sorry for your loss of both of them and wish I could do more to help comfort you and your family. Your Dad was really a wonderful man and I will always remember how he made me laugh. I am sure you feel overwhelmed with grief so my whole family including my mom and sister Felice are thinking about all of you. May you be comforted amoungst the mourners of Zion.
Beth Zinderman Burnham

Livio said...

Mr. Feuerstein,
please accept my deepest condolences.


Anu...U Chill... said...

Hi Steven,

Deepest Sympathies. May God give strength to u and ur family. I went through your family picturs in flickr, and they are really wonderful. Even though i came to know abt you all recently, seems like I've known them since ages after seeing the pictures.