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.