I want to share a note I wrote last week to Bob Feldmann's daughter, Deborah, who grew up in Skaneateles but now makes her home in California.
When I really thought about your father, "sweetheart" was what came to mind. I mean in the true sense of those two words being joined together. He was so sweet and caring; and he involved himself, whether you were just stopping in to the Bridge Market to pick up a six-pack or over to Bob's True Value for some household oddity. He was so welcoming and engaging (and in the case of the six-pack, I was 18, he would give me the "Be good" eye).
I think he had that rare art of making most everyone he interacted with feel special. Like he was being nice but it was just to you and just this once. I'm basing this on my experience and the stories people have shared with me about a moment in time with your dad.
Just the other day, I was up at the doctors in the waiting room with my dad (Bill Leahy who will be 90 this month), when Marvin Langley (he's 93) came in and sat down with us. Marvin mentioned how your dad had passed - and told us how dear your father was to his late wife Emily when she was so sick. He said when Bob had to come and get her in the ambulance, all the while he was wheeling her out of the house on the stretcher, he would have his head bent down speaking comforting words to her. At such a helpless time for both Marvin and Emily, he took the time to take the fear out of the equation.
Tracy Dean, of Tracy Dean's Flying Scissors, has raved about Bob for years. She had a similar experience to Diana Whiting (letter in last week's press) in that when she wanted to start her own hair salon, Bob recognized that she had some moxie and being a single mom, she needed to make a living - so he was very encouraging as a landlord making that part of the equation easy, and for this she made sure she made her rent. It wasn't in any way a hand out, instead a hand up. He believed in people which in turn helped them to believe in themselves - and he did it quietly, always mindful of their dignity.
There is something odd about Skaneateles and its affect on people - and for anyone who has ever been charmed by this lakeside community, rest assured that during his lifetime, your dad had a hand in that. He will always be missed here and remembered fondly.