Obituary & Memorial Service
Abraham Feldman "Abe" (Age 60)
Of Washington DC, passed away on December 4, 2019, in Falls Church, Virginia. Abe was born in Walnut Creek, California on August 21st, 1959. He graduated to a standing ovation from Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, PA and from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics. Abe was loved, admired and adored by so many. His greatest joy and passion was square dancing, as a dancer, as a caller and as a teacher. He was a proud member of the DC Lambda Squares and will be profoundly missed by the national square-dancing community. Abe loved those around him with a gentle spirit and unyielding commitment to his friends and family. He enjoyed the simple things in life, dining with friends, seeing films and taking long walks. Living as a partially sighted man, Abe brilliantly navigated the world, finding joy in all around him. Abe had an exceptional mind and a loving heart.
Abe is preceded in death by his mother, Renee Bass Feldman. He is survived by his father, Donald W. Feldman and his stepmother Elizabeth Feldman; his sister, Jessica Feldman and his brother-in-law Donald K. Scott; his stepsisters Melanie and Lizzie Asher and step-brother-in-law Daniel Ezra, and step-nephew Leonidas Ezra, of whom he was most proud. A Memorial to celebrate Abe's life will be held on December 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pumphrey Funeral Home, 7557 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD, 20814. All are welcome.
Memorial by Brian Heike
Abe’s memorial service today (12/14/19) was more joyful than sorrowful. Abe’s sister Jessica was a dream to work with in planning the service. We really bonded. She produced a wonderful tri-fold handout which was a tribute to Abe’s life and included the lyrics to two songs: Bridge Over Troubled Water and The Dance. I suggested the first and his friend Drew Allen suggested the second.
The service was designed to be more of a celebration of Abe's life and spirit than a mournful funeral. Abe’s father Don, his daughter Jessica, and her husband Don each had moving things to say about Abe. I learned that Abe was involved in the formation of the LGBT Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh. I was able to do my own tribute to Abe, and Ett McAtee, a square dance caller from Baltimore who calls at the highest square dance levels, gave a detailed description of Abe’s life as a nationally known square dancer.
Then the tribute became a dancing celebration. Chairs were moved aside from the center of the room and non-dancers were introduced to the world of square dancing by actually learning some basic moves. I was lucky to have Melanie Asher, Abe’s stepsister, as my partner. We then had more experienced dancers do a demo square of more advanced dancing. We raised the roof.
Our hearts were both broken and full, an unusual juxtaposition of opposites. Abe would have loved it.
From Allan Hurst (12/4/19)
I am both sorry and upset to report the passing of DC Lambda Squares’ Abe Feldman.
While walking to a square dance in Tysons Corner, VA on Monday evening 12/2/19, Abe was struck by a car. His injuries were quite severe and he passed away Tuesday evening, never regaining consciousness. Abe was a cornerstone of Lambda Squares and the IAGSDC community and will be greatly missed by many.
He was always among the first people to welcome me into a square or when I walked into any fly-in. Despite his being legally blind, somehow he managed to recognize me every time, and he was well known for providing wonderful gentle bear hugs.
The first Convention I attended after learning C1, I was feeling too intimidated to hit the dance floor, and as soon as Abe saw me and found out what I was thinking, he pulled me into a square with other experienced C1 dancers and made sure that I felt right at home. This was utterly typical of the sweet, kind, thoughtful man that Abe was.
Abe’s visual impairment didn’t stop him from being both an excellent dancer and caller. He attended GCA Caller Schools in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010, delighting and surprising each school's instructors and students, many of whom hadn't previously considered the possibility of a legally blind caller. He served on the board of the GCA as our Alternate Delegate to the IAGSDC. Abe received his 20 year IAGSDC Medallion in Palm Springs in 2017.
Abe was a fervent movie and television fan, supported many non-dancing organizations, such as attending concerts by the Gay Mens Chorus of Washington DC, volunteering at Food & Friends (helping provide meals for shut-ins), and served on the board of Beltway Bears.
Something he posted to Facebook for National Coming Out Day 2019 struck me as quite profound: “30 years ago at the age of 29 I came out as gay and claimed my life. I faced my demons and found them to be angels. My only regret is not doing it sooner.”
From Drew Allen (12/5/19)
Abe and I met our freshman year at Carnegie Mellon University. He was active in Scotch and Soda (the amateur theatrical group). I remember one year he played Bung (the court jester) in a play based on the comic strip "The Wizard of ID".
Abe and I lost touch when I moved to Columbus, OH for grad school. I came out in Columbus and was very active in the Stonewall Union (gay political activism). When I moved back to Pittsburgh, I would occasionally run into Abe around town. On one such occasion, I was on my way to a meeting of Cry Out! and mentioned that to Abe. My being so open about being gay helped give Abe the courage to come out to me.
That is when our friendship really blossomed. We did a lot of stuff together. He talked me into going to the Pittsburgh Men's Collective, which we both became very active in. We were also both active in Bet Tikvah (the gay synagogue).
We would go to movies together, and we would always have to sit in first three rows in order for Abe to see. To this day, I continue to sit way up front in movie theaters. There was one time that we went to the Pittsburgh Gay/Lesbian film festival and we showed up late, so most of the seats were already taken. We ended up sitting about 2/3rds of the way back, and the movie was being shown on a large TV rather than being projected on a movie screen. On top of that, the movie was in French with English subtitles. I ended up reading the subtitles to him for the entire movie.
One of my favorite Christmases was when Abe and I went to a kosher Chinese restaurant to listen to Klesmer music.
We met several people at the Pittsburgh Men's Collective and became very tight with two in particular. The four of us traveled to Atlanta for a national men's conference and stayed at my parents' house. They were a little shocked about how my mother wasn't at all flustered about us talking about men.
There was also one time that the four of us decided to go to a straight contra dance. I was very active with the contra dance community and Abe had done some contra dancing, so the other two thought it might be fun to try it. Keith was a little hesitant to dance with a stranger, so I offered to dance follow with him. That was the first time that I ever danced follow. Some of the women were a little confused by that, but the organizer of the dance said, "They're gay. Get over it." Much different reaction than the first time that I danced follow at a straight square dance event.
In 1990, both Abe and I moved away from Pittsburgh. I moved to Philadelphia and Abe moved to Washington, DC. In Philadelphia, some of my friends tried to get me to try gay square dancing, but I had negative impressions of square dancing from my contra dance friends. I did finally give it a chance and loved it.
It took me a couple of years, but I was finally able to convince Abe to give it a try. I told him that he would find a husband. He kept kidding me that he never did find a husband through square dancing.
Abe and I had a bit of a square dance rivalry. When I taught myself C2, Abe said he had to learn it as well in order to keep up. Then when I taught myself C3A, he also had to learn C3A. Both of us were talking about learning C3B.
Once I started dancing C2 and C3A, I quickly realized that I wasn't getting much floor time. I knew that the best way to get more floor time was to start going to straight square dance weekends, but, of course, that meant that I needed a dance partner. The first person I thought of was Abe. The two of us ended going to many straight square dances together. The last time that I saw Abe was at the Harvest Moon Classic where the two of us danced C2 (and some C1) together all weekend.
From Richard Spencer (12/5/19)
Abe was the heart of DCLS to me. He made me feel so welcome as a newbie, and modeled courage and resilience in this life in ways I want to emulate. I am so heart and soul broken by his departure from us, but wish him and his family every peace at this time.
With thoughts of Abe dancing free in the sky and stars, - Richard E. Spencer
From Margie Barber (12/5/19)
In memory of Abe: Out of all the people writing a tribute to Abe, I'm sure I am the one who knew him the least. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to share my "Abe" story. I met Abe last year at a dance. We happened to be sitting near each other during a break and we struck up a conversation. Almost immediately, I thought to myself, "I've just met the nicest most interesting man!" We talked for quite a while, and I felt a real kinship because of our mutual love of square dancing. Unfortunately, that was the only time I had a conversation with Abe but one conversation was all it took for me to realize how lucky the square dance world was to have him in the ranks.
Frederick County Promenaders
From Chern Chiat Kong (12/4/19)
Abe was one of the kindest dancers around. He made me more confident when we danced together. We regularly hung out at a nearby diner over coffee or supper after Wednesday dances. Sometimes he would get a call during supper from his friend Brian Heike, and they would chat for a few minutes. He said he would miss the diner when it closes. He was one of the very few people I felt completely comfortable discussing square dance calls with because he was so patient and interested in helping. He responded Yes to the attendance poll for tonight's dance. It's going to be difficult not seeing him, but we will dance.
From Brian Heike (12/13/19)
Life without Abe will be so different. He knew me inside and out and we loved each other unconditionally. He kept me grounded, but also was the wind beneath my wings. We had no secrets. We accepted each other's imperfections and we kept each other on track. I always valued his input.
We were movie buddies and could talk for hours about cinema and good TV programs. I had to forgive him for sharing spoilers even when I told him not to. How could I get angry at Abe? We just laughed.
I usually was able to find the time to meet him in Silver Spring to have lunch with on the way up to NJ to visit family, or on the way back south. Back in the day when I lived outside of Philly, I would visit DC often, and we'd hang out together, often with our friend Vladislav. We lost him a few years ago. Now only I am left.
It will be hard. Life can be filled with life's hard realities. I will hold on to all of the good memories and that will have to do.
I lift my glass to Abe Feldman.
D.C. man dies two days after being struck while crossing street in Virginia By Dana Hedgpeth Washington Post Dec. 5, 2019
A 60-year-old pedestrian died two days after being struck by a vehicle Monday evening in the Tysons area, police said. The incident happened around 7:20 p.m. Monday as the man — later identified as Abraham Feldman of Washington — walked on Old Courthouse Road at the intersection of Lord Fairfax Road, according to Fairfax County police. He was hit by a Chevrolet Tahoe as it went eastbound on Old Courthouse Road. Police said Feldman was “in the vicinity of the crosswalk.” He was taken to a hospital and died Wednesday, according to officials. An initial investigation found that “alcohol does not appear to be factor for the driver or the pedestrian,” police said in a statement. Officials said detectives have not determined whether speed was a factor. The crash remains under investigation.
Pedestrian dies after Tysons-area wreck Inside Nova Dec 4, 2019
A Washington, D.C., man died Wednesday after he was struck by a SUV Monday evening in the Tysons area, according to Fairfax County police. Abraham Feldman, 60, of Washington, D.C., was crossing Old Courthouse Road at the intersection with Lord Fairfax Road around 7:19 p.m. when he was struck by a 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe. Feldman was in the vicinity of the crosswalk, police said in a statement. He was taken to an area hospital where he died Wednesday. The driver remained at the scene and is cooperating with detectives, police said. Preliminarily, alcohol does not appear to be a factor for the driver or the pedestrian. Detectives have not yet determined if speed was a factor for the driver.