An Old Friend Leaves the Stage
An Old Friend Leaves the Stage
As we go through this life we sometimes have the opportunity to meet some interesting and extraordinary people. One such person in my life was Sidney Rothenberg, my late father’s friend and business partner. Sid left us this week, dying in his sleep at his home in Delray Beach, Florida at the age of 81. He left a loving wife, Lynn, and two lovely daughters, Robin and Amy.
I first met Sid when in 1962 when I was 13 and began working for my father during the summer before my freshman year in high school. At the time my father was part-owner of Jonathan & Richards, a point-of-purchase display design and production broker. Sid was my father’s screen printer and friend even then. Sid reveled in coming up with interesting solutions to extraordinary challenges posed by his customers. Believe me when I tell you that my father had some doozies. My earliest recollections of Sid with an ever-present cigar stuck in the corner of his mouth. He bought boxes of seconds down by his plant on Broadway in Greenwich Village. Sid later quit this habit when he got his teeth fixed which would have made his late father Jack, the dentist, proud.
In 1968 my father and his first partner, Jonathan Fox, dissolved their company and went their separate ways. Sid asked my father to join him and he did. Thus began a partnership that lasted until the end of my father’s working life. During these years they shared good times and not-s0-good times. In 1970 they purchased Masta Displays and moved their employees to Masta’s West 17th Street plant. About the same time I joined the company in the production department. Technically, I worked for Sid and he was a great boss. He always was willing to answer an question. He really knew everything about the screen printing business and had many interesting contacts in the artist community in New York. We had the opportunity to work with many well-known artists, printing special runs for them. Part of my inheritence is two signed proofs by Robert Indiana.
Sid and my father experienced a business bankruptcy in 1975 but continued their partnership as brokers. They moved their office to another screen printer for several years but eventually set up an office in New Jersey where they designed and produced displays for a variety of customers. After several years they bought a small building in Englewood, New Jersey to house their growing needs. During the 90’s they experienced some complicated legal problems and after a number of years they both retired. My father died in 1995 and Sid retired to Florida.
Over all of the years and the ups and downs they always appreciated and respected their employees. Sid was always willing to sit and discuss anything that they wanted to talk about. If you needed financial advise, Sid who was a graduate of the NYU School of Business and Commerce, would take the time to talk to you. Sid who was a Korean War veteran had strongly held beliefs about many things. When Ronald Reagan visited a German military cemetery Sid sent his medals back to the White House. He was a huge fan of John Wayne and had a framed print to John Wayne in the office. He loved to tell jokes and funny stories and trust me he had a million of them. Sid outsourced before it became popular. One of his friends, a paper salesman named Jerry Greenstein, supplied a weekly “Jewish” joke every Monday for years. Some of them were so memorable I remember them still.
For years Sid and Lynn had a cottage in the woods with a number of friends and relatives. Sid always called it the “kibbutz”. They would go there on the weekends in the summer. They had purchased an old resort as a group and I sometimes wondered if it was more trouble than it was worth.
Sid was diagnosed with MS in the ’80s and it became progressively worse. I spoke with him about 18 months ago and he told me that he didn’t get around much anymore. The guy that played stickball and tennis wasn’t able to enjoy them anymore.
Sid Rothenberg had a great impact on my life and lives of my siblings. He and Lynn were there when our mother died. They comforted our father in his grief. They were there when our father died. Again, they were a comfort to all of us as we grieved.
Sid: we’ll miss you and remember you always.
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