Reprinted with permission of the Albuquerque Journal
Thursday, December 25, 2003
Uncle Led a Life of Adventure and Kindness
By Paul Logan
Journal Staff Writer
Every family should have an Uncle Max Feld, according to relatives and friends of the longtime Albuquerquean.
Known as a caring person and a wonderful storyteller, Feld etched on children's imaginations his adventures as a soldier, engineer and traveler.
He was a retired Army full colonel, civilian employee with the Corps of Engineers, state water engineering specialist and master woodcraftsman.
Feld, 87, died Oct. 9 of complications from Alzheimer's disease. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Central United Methodist Church, 1615 Copper NE.
Feld and his wife, Beverly, taught their three boys to look beyond the package of a person to see his or her soul, said a son, Dave Feld, a London banker.
"My parents were absolutely without prejudice," he said.
He described his father as doing things the right way, "the most honest way possible."
Feld was the first child born in America of Ukrainian Jews who immigrated in 1912, according to his son.
Feld's father was a St. Louis shoemaker. The fourth of six children, Feld didn't finish high school during the hard times of the Great Depression.
He would go on to serve in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Afterward, Feld helped rebuild Japan and later helped rebuild South Korea after the Korean War.
"Money meant absolutely nothing to him," his son said. "The things that mattered most ... were relationships and people."
Feld earned an equivalency diploma along the way and became a civil engineer while falling in love in Albuquerque.
Here are some excerpts from some of the 20 written testimonials about Feld:
Max was eating at the University of New Mexico cafeteria when he looked up and saw Beverly Mae Eakins' mesmerizing, hazel eyes across the table, recalled a brother-in-law, Benjamin Eakins of Boulder, Colo.
He said Feld "was determined to get to know the lady behind those eyes."
A niece, Mary Seppo of Denver, said Max and Bev's Albuquerque home "was an oasis for friends and family. They both loved each other deeply."
They were married for 40 years. Bev died in 1993.
"He was, without a doubt, my favorite relative," said another niece, Jean Feld Rissover of St. Genevieve, Mo.
When she was a child, she recalled the special times when her uncle would visit her. He gave her 100 percent of his attention and told stories of exploring ice caves and working with Indian tribes.
Late at night when her parents and Feld talked about family and world affairs, she would eavesdrop. Rissover wrote: "The relationship between those three grownups was one that became my model for what adult friendship should be about."
As an adult, she would discover that Uncle Maxâ€” on occasionâ€” was inflexible and unreasonably demanding. He also sometimes came close to "foolish fearlessness" in challenging what he felt was wrong, Rissover wrote, "but his intelligence, integrity and kindness meant that even when he was wrong, it was for the right reasons."
Feld was an Explorer Scout leader in St. Louis. Members of his Troop 11 helped a blind lady, Carmelitta Newbold, learn how to walk at a certain pace before she received a seeing-eye dog, recalled former scout Nathan Friedman of Chesterfield, Mo.
After receiving help from the Scouts for several weeks, Newbold flew to pick up her dog. He wrote: "Max and his 'walking crew' met Ms. Newbold and her dog as they were getting off of the plane. There is a special feeling one gets knowing you have helped someone start a new life."
Feld taught his family about integrity and how to open one's heart to another, wrote a daughter-in-law, Tracy Feld of Columbia, Md. She added:
"The greatest gift he gave me happened much earlier when he taught (my husband) Steve, through example, how truly to be a loving partner in life."
In his later years, Feld taught woodcarving to senior citizens and was one of the founding members of the Rio Grande Woodcarvers group.
Other survivors include sons Terry Feld of Albuquerque and Steve Feld of Columbia.
Memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Research Center, 640 Jackson St., St. Paul, MN 55101-2595.