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Lake Placid a better place thanks to Richard Feldman
March 30, 2018

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Richard Feldman, who led the Lake Placid Horse Shows with a strong hand and a personal touch for 26 years, died March 8 at the age of 83. Although he was only a part-time resident of Lake Placid, he deserves local residents' respect and appreciation for his commitment and contributions to Lake Placid.

Feldman played a major role in not only growing the horse shows but growing Lake Placid as a upscale destination. There are downsides to that as well as upsides, but in general, it has been good for the village and the region as a whole. It fed businesses, real estate, job growth and the tax base. Lake Placid today is a much bigger economic engine than it was in 1991 when Feldman took over as horse show chair.

While his business acumen must have helped - he worked for Lehman Brothers for 40 years, rising to senior vice president and managing director of investments - the more visible assets he brought to the horse shows were the knowledge and contacts he acquired through his lifelong vocation as a horseman, along with his boundless energy and year-round lobbying for Lake Placid at horse shows all over the country.

Consider these words from Lake Placid News columnist Naj Wikoff in July 2016, during the last Lake Placid Horse Shows Feldman presided over.

"In many respects, Feldman is the heart and soul of the horse show, though he will say it's the horse show crew, the location and the horses and their riders. Feldman was knocked off his feet by a triple by-pass operation coupled with a double valve replacement. He was laid up for months, which atrophied his legs a bit from lack of use.

"What kept Feldman going was his desire and commitment to be back in Placid. Indeed, even in the hospital, be it prepping for surgery or in recovery, he was on the phone planning this year's show. No less important were the hundreds of cards and good will wishes he received from the horse show community."

"I now know what the horse show means to me now," Feldman told Wikoff. "I knew it was the passion of my heart."

He also cared enough about it to plan for his transition out of it. Last year he formally passed the reins to new Chairman Philip Richter, who said that while he couldn't keep up Feldman's momentum single-handedly, he could do so with the collaboration of his strong board.

And, we add, with the help of Lake Placid, both as a community of willing partners and as a destination with plenty of attractive amenities. The symbiotic relationship between the horse show team and the community nourished all of that, and Feldman was a key part of that.

"Everybody loves Dick Feldman," Butch Martin, head of the North Elba Park District, told Wikoff in 2016. "They respect him and love seeing him here. He just makes everyone work a little bit harder. He's not a perfectionist, but one who expects the best and wants to provide the best. That's a good thing!"

It sure is. It's a model that can be emulated, but even so, Lake Placid will miss the one and only Richard Feldman.

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