There has been a major tragedy in my life this past two weeks. My dear friend Sid B. passed away less than a week ago. If that wasn't enough his daughter Marilyn only 60+ years died in that same week.
One thing had nothing to do with the other but I cannot let their deaths pass without calling attention to them. Sid was a big dominant figure. He stood out wherever he went because of his size. He had a booming voice so you always knew where he was in a crowd.
I don't know how or why he let his weight get away from him. I can remember when he was 205 lbs and a physical fitness leader in the world famous Hellerstein heart program. Dr. Hellerstein had set up a program encompassing 500 men of Jewish descent who were coronary prone. I was one of the men in the program along with Sid. The staff developed physical fitness leaders under medical supervision. Dr. Hellerstein for heart and Dr. Bran for orthopedics.
It surely saved a lot of lives. Sid was one of the dominant leaders. From that important step Sid became involved in the JCC Men's Club. Their mission was to bring men together once a week to discuss world affairs and to share coffee and cake. Later on they set up a speaker program were they brought in important speakers of the day who spoke on current events and other subjects relating to making this world a better place. Sid instigated that program. With so many men looking for things to do the membership went from 50-200 in no time at all.
This program still exists today 50 years later, running in the same fashion featuring speakers every week as in the past. This has been a very important part of Sid's life, besides his family whom I will talk about later. 50 years later, these same men are coming to meetings in walkers and canes, also for the commentary and the speakers. What could be a better heritage? A home away from home for a few hours every Monday.
Sid loved his 2 daughters Marilyn and Gail and granddaughter Jennifer. Nothing was too good for them. He made sure they were protected financially a long time ago. He gave them every privilege and every financial benefit he could give them.
His wife Betty, whom he loved dearly let him have his way for 70 years just to keep him happy. In his later years he was very philanthropic. He used his money to benefit any cause he believed in; Concerts at Montefiore Home every Sunday, Holiday flowers for the temple when they visited their loved one at memorial holiday times.
Sid was a big man - his weight went up to 350-400lbs. Sid was an optimist. He believed he could beat the odds. Planning each birthday party 5 years ahead. He made his own big parties every 5 years. Calling them "Against All Odds".
His 90th birthday party topped them all. He was gone at 93. A character never to be forgotten. Sid brought friendship and laughter where ever he came. He will be sorely missed for the many good things he brought to the world.
I will miss his daily call checking me out how I was doing that day.
Good bye good friend it has been a great run together.
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Cleveland Seniors columns