Sydney Solomon Feldheim
From the Tregenza Times 23rd June 1987
On Monday 8th June, Syd, having attended O.C's 50th Anniversary Dinner and
celebrated his 65th birthday, passed on to greener golf courses with no roughs, rugby
pitches where the offside law does not apply and where there is an abundance of artesian
Grange Hermitage wells.
David Rogers records ...
None of us can hope to be as unforgettable as Syd Feldheim. He
didn't fit the common mould. He was the complete extrovert, yet sensitive, vigorous,
hard-headed, sport loving, artistic and above all, humanitarian.
It seemed he knew everybody in Adelaide, from policemen on traffic duty who would call out
"G'day, Syd" from busy intersections, to toffy businessmen in pin-stripes who
would stop for earnest footpath discussions. It was all part of mateship, which was
so vital to Syd's life. Although on rare occasions he could get angry with people,
never once have I heard him express a dislike for another human being. When times
were tough, we ordinary people get the feeling others turn their backs on us. Syd,
under similar circumstances, would say "people are good to me".
His life was not easy. His father died when he was only a few months old, and he was
raised by his widowed mother and half-brother. During World War 2 his mother
prevented him from volunteering for active service at first, since he was less than
eighten at the time, so he got a job as a civilian with the Americans in New Guinea.
Finally he joined the Australian Army and was posted to Adelaide River. He
was demobilised in Sydney, and on his mother's death soon after, he moved to Adelaide to
commence an agency business.
He had mixed success in business. At first he would accept any type of agency,
selling steel and other materials to industry. Subsequently, he specialised in
clothing, a highly competitive field at the best of times, doing well from a well stocked
and displayed showroom in Gawler Place. Sometimes the business had to operate beyond
that of a straight agency, with the carryinbg of bought stock and extension of credit to
retailers. Maybe Syd would have been a soft touch for credit, particularly if the
retailer was finding money short, and consequently he lost considerable sums of money
through some of his customers 'going through the hoop'.
Apart from his family, sport was his greatest love. Besides rugby, he played tennis,
boxed, golfed, played table tennis and went skiing. He was good at all these
activities, but although he strived to be a champion at each, he never made the top
echelon. He played tennis at 'the Drive' at one time: his style was good, his
strokes firm & accurate. But he would try to place his strokes too close to the
lines, and then miss vital strokes. That's the way life was with Syd; playing close
to the edge and sometimes missing. Yet he was better at all these things and more
than most of us.
He had a nice swing at golf, too, and managed to play, using an electric buggy, up to the
last. Even on his final trip into hospital three days before his death, he looked to
the sunny sky and wondered if he should make one more journey to Grange for a few shots
first. Again, he may have been a top golfer if he had not tried for birdies at each hole.
For instance, when driving across the lake at Blackwood a few years ago, his
powerful swing topped the ball, causing it to ricochet in long hops across the water, the
rise to the distant grass and come to rest in the centre of the fairway. "Syd,
you're all arse", rued his opponent, Barry Levey.
Rugby gave Syd most of his sporting satisfaction. Not only did he love the game, but
he made many mates amongst the blokes who played. And amongst the girls who followed
the game, too. His first Adelaide Club was University, where he had enrolled in
English. Then he transferred to Old Collegians in the early 1950's. The club
had just been through its worst period in its history, and Syd came to help it rebuild.
The numbers grew, largely as a result of Syd hard-selling the spirit of the club to
his numerous acquaintances.
But he was anxious to help rugby generally: he seemed to be the one able to organise a
fleet of cars from a dealer to transport a visiting international side, or some cheap
group air travel. At one time he transferred to the struggling Glenelg Club (now
Brighton), returning a year or so later to play for Old Collegians, then becoming a
committeeman, selector, vice-president, president and life member. But he would have
liked to have achieved more, and confessed a sadness, not long ago, that he would not have
time to cap his service to the club by becoming its patron.
Old Collegians was a second home to Syd, for he knew that it was a family club where
children were welcomed and liked. So he brought his own family to enjoy all that the
club had to offer. Maybe, sometimes they may have liked something else!
Jenny Felheim has been a great source of strength, shouldering many of the family
responsibilities during this prolonged illness, and at the same time pursuing a career
which necessitated study. She gained her Bachelor of Applied Science (Nursing
Studies) degree in 1986. She with Anne, Sarah, Simon and David will suffer a great
sadness. Later. there will be many good memories to recall .....
Addendum - Syd's rugby interest resulted in him being a vice president of Brighton and
Woodville. Also, having achieved his three score years, he played with the Crippled
Crows at the Sydney Golden Oldies Festival where he made the front page of the Sydney
Morning Herald. He also fancied himself as an actor and appeared on stage, screen
and television. But perhaps his greatest act was during his last illness when he
appeared regularly at the club and continued in his own way to work for the club,
culminating in his introducing the guest speaker, Howell Witt, at the 50th Dinner.
Referring to the worthy Bishop he said, "Witt always claimed I did nothing for him,
and he certainly did nothing for me. And that's how it was for us; we both went
through life doing nothing for each other!" Be that as it may, Syd did
something for every one of us who met him. The world is a poorer place without him.
From the Tregenza Times 23rd June 1987