Wednesday, January 19, 2022

In memoriam: Dick Steinberg - My mentor


In memoriam: Dick Steinberg


Dick Steinberg of Mall Properties / now Olshan Properties, died the other day.  

I got the news from a long-time friend, and former colleague at Mall Properties.


Dick was one of the most respected people in the shopping mall / shopping center industry.  He was Executive Vice President of the ‘vertically-integrated’ (although I don’t think that term was used much in the 1980’s when I worked there) firm that built several well - known regional malls:  Cortana Mall, Baton Rouge, LA; Coliseum Mall, Hampton, VA; Northway Mall, Colonie (Albany), NY.  


Dick was both my boss and mentor.  He taught me many things that were extremely valuable, not only to the work I did but also in my life.  Dick taught me the subtlities of negotiating real estate leases so that it resulted in a win-win.


He showed a sincere interest in me from the day I went to interview with he and Mort Olshan, CEO of Mall.  


Thinking back now I remember sitting with them in Dick’s office on the 11th floor of an office building on Madison & 60th Street.  I had been introduced to them by an industry friend, who worked at Mall Properties.  I was in between jobs.


As I sat there, answering questions, I saw they had interest in me. As the conversation progressed, I asked them for a ‘signing bonus.’  I remember both with big smiles on their faces and Mort said, ‘What, do you think this is the New York Yankees?’  Side note:  Mort became (and I believe still is) a significant shareholder in the Yankees!


Prior to joining Mall I had worked on some distressed retail property assignments.


Mall Properties had bought a large community shopping center in West Babylon, Long Island, NY with plans to renovate it and redevelop it with higher rents.  Shortly after that purchase closed, the one department store informed Mall that they would be moving to an enclosed regional mall in a town not that far away. 


That left a three-story, 160,000 square foot (if my memory serves me correctly) department store sitting in Great South Bay Shopping Center - not the highest priority location for another department store.  My first project was to turn that property around and Dick Steinberg and I worked closely together on that and ended up putting a Caldor Discount Department store on the first floor and worked at leasing the top two floors to office space - which was not a huge success.


I’d meet with Dick every day to report progress.  His door was always open and some days I’d walk in multiple times - discussing a lease I was negotiating and  sometimes moaning about the leasing how difficult things were.  He said, "You can do this...that's why we hired you!). 


Dick was always supportive and understanding of the challenges I was facing in this project (and others I inherited).  He always had some good suggestions of things I could try – and I did.  


Dick and I also worked together on the redevelopment of class-B enclosed mall in Colonie (Albany), New York called Northway Mall.  The timing was right, and we converted it to a successful outlet and off-price center. 


Dick Steinberg was always respectful of the team at Mall.  We all worked together well – even with challenging situations.


In 1985 when I had a heart scare (that turned out to be a misdiagnosis), when I was allowed to come back into the office for a half-day (which I was itching to do), Dick allowed me to use a car service to drive me to and from my house which was about a 40-minute drive in New Jersey.  


Dick was a Boston native and, as you would expect, had a typical Boston dry sense of humor – although he didn’t have that Boston accent.


Dick and I stayed in touch over the years; I’d go into the office when I was in the city and then, after he retired, we’d meet for lunch about once a year and catch up on things (mostly him asking me questions of how things were – in business and with me personally).  I always looked forward to seeing him.  I will miss him. Dick Steinberg was a class act.


My condolences to his wife and family.


RIP my mentor and friend…. 



Friday, January 7, 2022

Friday Smile: Peter Lewis on the Koala Bear

 

Friday Smile

Many of you remember Peter Lewis.

I first met him when he worked for MIT and oversaw their real estate investing program.

Peter was, if not the first, one of the first significant size U.S. institutional investors to start investing outside the U.S.

 

Sadly, Peter died on March 2, 2013 - way before 'his time.'  I just this week found an email Peter wrote me on November 6, 2005, about something I had written in this column.


I hope it brings a smile to your face...just like it did to mine!


Peter Lewis on the Koala Bear


Hi Steve,

 

It was good to see you at that conference, however brief it was.  I don't know whether you can use this in your "On the Road" feature, but perhaps you'll find it amusing.  I was totally exhausted when I had the following crazy thoughts:

 

At the end of an exhausting week that included two separate trips, both without avoiding direct flights, but including two conference panels, numerous meetings, and generally being on all the time, sometimes the simplest, nondescript things assume undeserved attention.

 

Such was the case when I spotted Koala Kare Center in an airport restroom. Punchy from lack of sleep, I thought about the product name and imagined the convenience if I had decided to travel with my pet koala and nature had called.

 

I don’t often take her on business trips.  She doesn’t like traveling if she’s not in the main cabin even though she's from down under. It’s both claustrophobic and cruel to place her in my carry-on, and my clothes don’t always arise in pristine condition. Her claws are even sharper than the last one inserted by counsel in a recent document draft and her communications via “bellowing” can make the nights unbearable.  Add to that the difficulty in finding hotel atria with eucalyptus trees and you get an idea of the added complications. On the other hand, few other real estate professionals travel with a koala and there is a certain power in the first impression. 

 

As a baby, she was certainly popular with all the Cub fans in Chicago.  And then there’s the convenience of her pouch to carry CDs and boarding passes! I may take her with me more often now that I know that airports truly care. That means stocking up on koala diapers which are difficult to find at your local Wal-Mart, which tends to favor pandas.  She can run as fast as a rabbit, which has led to some hare-raising experiences, and she sleeps for up to 19 hours a day, perfect behavior for many conferences and presentations.  But travel excites her, and she is probably looking forward to a future trip to a namesake designation like Kuala Lumpur.

Peter


Saturday, January 1, 2022

2022: A year of second opportunities!

 

Apologies if you've gotten this already...having challenges with my distribution system...

2022: A year of second opportunities!

I feel 2022 is going to be a year of second opportunities (hey, there are lots of 2’s)! While ‘second chances’ is a commonly used phrase, ‘opportunities’ is much more positive, right?

Fortunately, I got a jump on the game in 2021 enrolling in a course called Positive Intelligence (Founded by Shirzad Chamine and facilitated by my business partner Liz Weiner).

It’s an amazing ‘mental fitness’ program that has been, and, I don’t use this expression lightly, life-changing. How, you may ask? Well, what the program offers are tools to identify and manage what they call our Saboteurs (I’ve referred to them as my Demons):

  • “Saboteurs are the voices in your head that generate negative emotions in the way you handle life’s everyday challenges. They represent automated patterns in your mind for how to think, feel, and respond. They cause all of your stress, anxiety, self-doubt, frustration, restlessness, and unhappiness. They sabotage your performance, wellbeing, and relationships.”

Pretty heavy, right? Well, it opened my eyes to a lot of things that had been having a negative influence on me. The program then also gave me ways to build my positive mindset.

One of my new year’s ‘resolutions’, for the past oh so many years, has been to take better care of myself. I am proud to say that I have made positive changes and that I know I will always be a work in progress (as I’m pretty sure all of us are!). I am sincerely feeling more at peace with myself and happier than ever before in my life!

So, you may want to take a look at how Liz describes this mental fitness coaching

(https://lizweinercoaching.com/mental-fitness).

~

The other day I started reading a book on the amazing new Kindle that my sons and their families gave me: “Life’s Greatest Lessons: 30 Things That Matter.” I’m only a little ways into it but have already found some powerful hints.

Here are some of my takeaways from the chapter called: Life is Also Fun…and Incredibly Funny. Btw, this truly resonates with me. For much of my life I took things way too seriously and I wasn’t much fun to be around - at least for just some of the time, I hope:)

  • “Human beings need to have fun. We need to play and most importantly we need to laugh”
  • “Life may be hard and at times unfair, but that doesn’t mean it has to be intolerable…humor is what helps the most”
  • “When we get bogged down with some of the ordeals of life, we need a diversion. One of the best is humor and one of the most important ways we can do that is to learn to not take ourselves so seriously”
  • “The only way to survive is to get plenty of laughs along the way. And we get those laughs when we look for them.” (Note from me: The author, Hal Urban, recommends watching two movies - Zorba the Greek and A Thousand Clowns. I saw the Clowns movie a million years ago - and I’m going to watch it again this weekend)
  • “...only when the mind is in a restful state does it work most creatively”
  • “People who laugh together can work longer and harder together, and with more effectiveness”
  • “Everything should be made as simple as possible”
  • “Laughter has been known to soothe jangled nerves, reduce tension, calm tempers, stimulate creativity and simply make life more fun”
  • “Laughter works wonders in relationships. Someone once said that laughter is the shortest distance between two people. It has a way of uniting them”
  • “It’s important to be able to laugh at ourselves. People who know how to laugh at themselves will never cease to be entertained”

~

A quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that I've always liked, "What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." [Note: I discovered this when I was consulting for Herb Kohler on the development of a high-end specialty shopping center, Woodlake Kohler, in (you guessed it!) Kohler, Wisconsin, next door to Sheboygan - home of Brat Days (like Bratwurst)].

And, while I’m hot on quotes right now, a long-time friend’s father once told her - about both her life and her career: “You don’t have to be going straight, just forward.”

~

In these challenging times for us all, I wish you and your families a peaceful, happy and healthy start of 2022! If we all allocate energy into waking up every day with a smile on our face, and show the world all the love in our hearts* I believe things will get better. (*from Carole King’s song ‘Beautiful’)

Looking forward to seeing you early next year!

Steve





Subway Station: Hey - it's New York City!

(btw she was a fantastic cellist!)






Friday, December 3, 2021

PERE America Forum NYC / Cornell-Hodes Weill Survey / Steinway Concert Grand / Pizza_Drink Thing / Job Opportunities


PERE America Forum - NYC

About 200 people converged in NYC this week for the PERE America Forum.  Having had a relationship with PERE since 2008 it was exciting to see them able to re-launch in person events.  The PERE folks did a great job!  


One of the wonderful byproducts of attending events, as I’ve shared with you before, is the opportunity to see people you know and also meet people you had not met before. I met and talked with about 20 people who I had not yet met – all passionate about the real estate industry.  PERE gave me the opportunity to facilitate a closed-door breakfast conversation with LP’s (Limited Partners – pension funds, family offices, etc.) as well as moderate a panel.  The event was also streamed live.


Here are a few of my observations: 

  • Attendance was about 50/50 female / male
  • Quite a few people were mid-level rising stars
  • A number are emerging managers (or at least managers who have already emerged but I had not met them before)
  • Prominent family offices in attendance
  • Single Family Rental (SFR) mentioned almost too many times to count!


Some comments from panelists:

  • U.S. investors have pretty much stayed in the U.S. during the past couple of years
    • There’s lots of opportunity 
    • Don’t need to go offshore
    • Interested in Logistics in Europe
    • Life Sciences in Europe will attract more U.S. investors 
  • European investors
    • Pent-up demand for U.S. Investments
    • Core/ Core + / Value add
    • Fixed income returns have been low in Europe
  • Asian investors
    • Like liquidity that U.S. offers
  • Residential Build to Rent - headline news / lots of $$$ going towards it
    • Easy for institutional sponsors to invest in this
  • Industrial: The customer (tenant) is in the lead’ - “All boats rise on a rising ocean”
    • 80,000 shortage of delivery drivers in U.S.
    • Goods need to be closer to the customer
    • “The customer always wants things faster”
  • e-Commerce 
    • U.S. +/- mid-teens of retail sales
    • Other developed countries around the world +/- 30%
    • Supply chain interruption - more manufacturing being done in U.S.
  • ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance)
    • “Kids are pushing for sustainable everything”
    • Investors expect managers have a process, substance and commitment to an ESG policy
    • Across their business
    • Not just ‘checking the box’
    • Not just a piece of paper anymore
    • ESG Important in EuropeStarting to get more important in U.S.
  • “Net Zero” - will continue to come more to U.S.; big in Europe
  • Net lease industrial buildings
    • They will operate more energy efficient going forward
  • ‘Impact Investing’ - onshore manufacturers creating jobs
  • Use of Technology
    • Valuable for first meetings with potential investors
    • Investor can get a broader view of the team from various disciplines / offices
    • Helps keep the conversation going
    • Due diligence / underwriting assets
    • ‘Technology offers better way to do it than with a stack of paper’


Cornell University / Hodes Weill Survey

There was a presentation of results of the Institutional Real Estate Allocations Monitor conducted by Cornell University’s Baker Program in Real Estate and Hodes Weill and Associates. 


From the Hodes Weill Website:

The 2021 Allocations Monitor focuses on the role of real estate in institutional portfolios, and the impact of institutional allocation trends on the investment management industry. The 2021 Allocations Monitor includes research collected on a blind basis from 224 institutional investors in 37 countries.  The 2021 participants hold total assets under management (“AUM”) exceeding US$13.4 trillion and have portfolio investments in real estate totaling approximately US$1.2 trillion.  


Key Findings of Survey 

  • Institutions remain significantly under-invested relative to target allocations and capital flow to the real estate sector are accelerating
  • While growth in target allocations remind moderate year-over-year, institutions expect to increase allocations at a faster pace over the next 12 months (add when survey was conducted)
  • Institutional portfolios are under-allocated in real estate by the widest margin over the past 7 years, resulting in an acceleration of capital flows to the sectors
  • Portfolio investment returns under-performed long-term targets in 2020; but investors remain optimistic for 2021 as valuation metrics climb to all-time highs
  • Investor sentiment increased to a 9=year high, and investors remain bullish about the opportunity to deploy capital
  • Higher return value-add and opportunistic strategies remain the strong preference coming out of COVID-19 pandemic, with US-based institutions showing the greatest appetite for risk
  • Cross border capital flows remain strong and the percentage of institutions investing outside of their domestic region is on the rise

Thanks again to my friends at PERE for inviting me to attend and participate as facilitator of the Closed-door LP (Limited Partner) breakfast and moderate a panel on How Investors Are Diversifying Their Real Estate Portfolios. 


Learn more about upcoming PERE and their upcoming events here 



Steinway 9-foot Concert Grand Piano 

While I was in Asheville, NC for the Thanksgiving weekend my son Brian took me to his school, University of North Carolina – Asheville, where he is the chair of the music department.  I had a chance to play an amazing instrument:  Steinway 9-foot Concert Grand Piano!  It was an incredible experience.  I played a couple of tunes including a song that was written and recorded many, many years ago by my songwriting partner John and me called “Paradise Plainly.”  Just writing this now brings up a special feeling.  Here’s a photo of me and my new favorite piano!




Steve’s Almost Annual Pizza/Drink Thing

When: Monday, December 13

Where: Joe G’s Restaurant, 244 W. 56th St (bet. B’way and 8th Ave. and downstairs from the DaVinci Hotel)

Time: 6ish to 9ish pm

What: A holiday get together of commercial real estate folks. I don’t ask for RSVPs so don’t know who or how many people will be show up…but I can tell you (as would others who have attended) that big or small it’s always an interesting group – business relationships have been launched there and it’s generally been a very eclectic mix of professionals from all facets of our great industry.

The Deal: You buy your own drinks and I provide the fabulous Joe G pizza (with various toppings of course!) This will be a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, make new ones and share what’s going on in the industry.


Note: NYC COVID guidelines require proof of vaccinations and your ID to attend. I hope you can join me.


Yardi is looking for people

Conversations at industry events result in learning about things like who is looking to hire people.  This happened at the PERE America Conference this week.Yardi has a number of openings they’re looking to fill…in various geographic regions.  Ideal candidates are people who know both technology and real estate. 


Yardi’s theme:  Do more with innovative property management software and services for any size business in every real estate market.   If you’re considering your next adventure, take a look at their website.  If you’re interested, please email me your resume Steve@FelixWeiner.com and I’ll pass it along to the right person at Yardi. 


Goldman Sachs is looking for people.

Just had coffee with a friend of mine who told me that there are a bunch of jobs posted on the Goldman Sachs website.


Steve Felix & Friends CD

Some folks have asked me where they can hear my original music.  There are two 'albums' posted here.

Note: To listen you don't have to purchase or donate.  Thanks for listening!
















Friday, November 26, 2021

Thanksgiving / The REview / The Beatles - Let it be / PERE America Forum / Pizza-Drink Thing / Dans le Noir? / Sharon Ellison Felix

Thanksgiving
Those of us in the United States celebrated our Thanksgiving Day yesterday. I received a number of good wishes from friends around the world as well as in the U.S. It feels like we have come together, again, fighting a common enemy (COVID). I know we all hope that we are past the worst and that things will not do downhill again over the coming winter. Perhaps this past 18 months has given us time to step back and appreciate and be mindful of the really important things in life: our health and our families and to be grateful for all the little things that bring us peace and happiness. I went into my office for the first time last week and it felt very good…I have always loved getting up early and going into the office, or going to an airport, and it felt almost normal. My most sincere best wishes to you and your families for a happy, healthy and peaceful rest of 2021. 

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The REview
Talking with RentTV founder Steve Bloom the other day he told me about The REview which is a free video sharing website for the commercial real estate industry now online with over 1,100 videos already in the platform! Steve’s goal with the new website is to increase viewers to all types of real estate videos (about Properties, Architecture, Development, Financing, Technology, Construction, Events, Charities, ESG. etc.) by making it easy for viewers to find relevant videos. Poke around on it when you get a chance.

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The Beatles - Get Back
Just released yesterday on Disney+. It's an amazing documentary covering the making of the Beatles' 1970 album 'Let it Be.'  I watched the first episode last night.  It's incredible.  


Photo: Foote Park, Morristown, NJ - Let it Be rock.  Sent to me by a friend.
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PERE America Forum (Nov 30 – Dec 1), NYC PERE (Private Equity Real Estate) has invited me to moderate a panel at their America Forum next week. The topic: How Investors Are Diversifying Their Portfolios. My panelists: Mike Acton, AEW; Alan Snoddy, Church Pension Group; Simon Lauzier, Ivanhoe Cambridge.

I truly feel back in the swing having attended the PREA and NCREIF conferences and now a PERE event! Learn more about the event here

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Steve’s Almost Annual Pizza/Drink Thing
When: Monday, December 13
Where: Joe G’s Restaurant, 244 W. 56th St (bet. B’way and 8th Ave. and downstairs from the DaVinci Hotel)
Time: 6ish to 9ish pm
What: A holiday get together of commercial real estate folks. I don’t ask for RSVPs so don’t know who or how many people will be show up…but I can tell you (as would others who have attended) that big or small it’s always an interesting group – business relationships have been launched there and it’s generally been a very eclectic mix of professionals from all facets of our great industry.
The Deal: You buy your own drinks and I provide the fabulous Joe G pizza (with various toppings of course!) This will be a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, make new ones and share what’s going on in the industry.

Note: NYC COVID guidelines require proof of vaccinations and your ID to attend. I hope you can join me.


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You never know…Dans le Noir?
On Wednesday I took a 5am flight from Newark to Charlotte, North Carolina (NC) – where I took a connection to Greenville Spartanburg, South Carolina where I rented a car and drove to Asheville, North Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with my son and his family. On the 5am flight, after all the announcements (including one by a very thoughtful pilot who said he was going to keep his announcements to a minimum because he figured a lot of folks were going to be sleeping) and that they would be turning the lights off in the cabin. As sometime happens (maybe you’ve experienced this) the flight landed and is taxiing to the gate and you talk with someone sitting next to you – even though you hadn’t said a word to each other during the flight. As I mentioned The plane had been virtually completely dark, like totally dark, during the flight. I mentioned to the woman next to me that it was an experience, me unwrapping a sandwich and eating it – in the dark (only dropped one little piece of turkey!). She opened my eyes to a restaurant chain called Dans Le Noir. It’s very cool…take a look.


From Wikipedia: Dans Le Noir? (French for "in the dark") is a chain of restaurants where guests are served in total darkness, a concept called dark dining or blind dining. Dans Le Noir was founded in 2004 in Paris by Edouard de Broglie, a French entrepreneur. Subsequent locations were opened in London, Barcelona, New York, St. Petersburg, New Zealand, Melbourne Australia, and Nairobi. The London location is featured in a key scene in the 2013 movie About Time. The New York location closed in 2012. "Dans Le Noir ?" claims that through limiting the sense of sight, other senses are intensified, including relations between people. Diners at "Dans Le Noir ?" have little knowledge of the entrĂ©es, appetizers, desserts, and wine choice of their meal, which is primarily inspired by French cuisine. Diners are served by either blind or visually impaired waitstaff. A percentage of the profits support charities in different countries. Has anybody been to one? When you click this link you may need to hit the ‘English’ button to translate from French to English.


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Sharon Felix
Tomorrow would have been the birthday of Sharon Ellison Felix, my first wife and mother of my two sons’. Unfortunately, Sharon was taken by a terrible cancer (is there any other kind?) 7 years ago. And, while she and I didn’t have much of a relationship after we got divorced many years ago, we always had one thing in common: support and love for our sons. Sharon was a great mom and a talented artist and, yes, I was ‘on the road’ a lot way back then as well. On this Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to pay tribute to her and express my gratitude – I have a feeling she’s able to see or feel this, wherever she is now.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

John Lennon

Today is the 40th Anniversary of John Lennon’s murder.  Just like when JFK was assassinated I (and probably many of you) remember exactly where you were when you the news that evening that John Lennon was dead.  It was unfathomable – why?  But ‘why’ isn’t able to always be answered in matters like this – as in a lot of other matters in life.


I had one ‘direct’ experience with John.


It was about 1972 or 1973 and I was hanging out in Jersey City, NJ with Tommy and Freddy, old bandmates from the group ‘Everyone.’  It was either a late Sunday afternoon or early evening.  We were driving around in my car listening to John Lennon being interviewed on an FM radio station in NY.  We just figured it had been previously taped.  Then, something was said – we knew it was live – happening right then!


I turned the car around and we headed to the Holland Tunnel – that connects New Jersey with Lower Manhattan.  We knew the building that the radio station had its studio, on Sixth Avenue around 50th street.  There was hardly any traffic and we made great time.  


Of course, we listened to the interview in the car, hoping that it wasn’t going to end before we got there.  We got to the building.  The streets were amazingly quiet for NY and I pulled around the corner and parked – legally or illegally we didn’t care.  We were sitting in the car, windows open, just watching the front entrance of the building.  We saw a limo parked on 6th Avenue and we were pretty sure it was waiting for John and Yoko. 


Not long after we got there, sure enough John, Yoko and Dave Herman, the DJ, walk out of the building.  John, long beard and his famous white suit, just strolling out of the building without a care in the world and going down the stairs to the street.  It was amazing – we were literally the only people around!


As they got closer to the limo I jumped out of the car and went to stand on the street pretty close to the limo.  As they slowly started moving up 6th Avenue, I stepped to the corner and held out my thumb, as in hitch-hiking.  Lennon rolled down his window and with a smile flashed me the peace sign.  It was something I’ll never forget.


My former bandmates actually got to meet John at a club on the Upper East Side called ‘Home’ where they played periodically hoping to be discovered.  I sat in with them from time to time as they had not replaced me on keyboards. But those nights that I sat in John was not there.


Just thought I’d share this one with you.

Please take care and stay safe!


Steve








Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veterans Day 2020

In honor of Veterans Day, and in the spirit of all of your family members and friends who have served in the military, I wanted to publish a portion of the eulogy for my father Manney 'The' Felix (no middle name!).  Dad died at age 92 on November 20, 2009.

Clearly the time that most defined your life was your time in the Army Air Corps.  It’s totally fitting and right that you are being laid to rest among other veterans who served their country with honor and distinction.


You enlisted in the Army shortly after Pearl Harbor because you were angry about America being attacked.  You served in World War II in the Army Air Corps, Technical Air Intelligence, 389th Service Squadron where you were an airplane instrument specialist.  Your military geography included Fort Dix, NJ; Jefferson Barracks, MO; Chanute Field, IL; Pendleton, OR; Ephrata, WA; Butte, MT; Alameda CA.  You saw duty in Townsville, Australia; Noemfoor, Dutch East Indies; and Leyte and Luzon in the Philippines.  While at Clark Field on the island of Luzon you were assigned to Technical Air Intelligence in charge of aircraft instruments.  Your assignment was to make ready and test fly all the captured Japanese planes and send out reports on all the flying characteristics of each airplane.  As a reward for your excellent work in supervising the instrument crew, you were made the crew chief on one of the captured planes called, “The Jill” which was to be taken back to Washington, DC.  


Starting at Alameda Naval Air Base in Oakland, CA, you and pilot Jay Perin (whom my brother Jay is named after) made what was to be a two-day flight to Anacostia Naval Base outside Washington, DC into a two-week adventure that included a stop for Jay to visit with his parents, an air show, a hurricane and an almost parachuting experience when the hydraulic pump and pump to switch to an alternate fuel tank failed to work properly.  The stops in “The Jill’ included Long Beach, CA; San Diego, CA’ El Paso, TX; Dallas, TX; Little Rock, AK; Nashville, TN; Cincinnati, OH; and Elkins, WV.  Most definitely a memorable excursion.


You were honorably discharged after spending time in various “Pacific Theatre” locations where you survived enemy bombings and other types of attacks.  You told us a story that the reason you didn’t like to drink water was that at one of your bases, perhaps in the Philippines, you had learned that the locals used to piss in the water that ran down to your water supply!


We’ve all heard you tell the story of “The Jill”, perhaps enough that we could tell it ourselves.  Even recently, when Brian and Kevin and Marissa visited you in the hospital, you asked them, “Did I ever tell you the story of ‘The Jill’?” and then proceeded to tell them an abbreviated version with the same enthusiasm as always.  Eleanor told me that you would tell it to anyone who would listen.


Earlier this year you and “The Jill” were reunited one last time in a cold Smithsonian Museum hanger where, even though you were having difficulty walking, you climbed up a tall ladder, twice, to look inside the cockpit, examine everything and after you came down off the ladder you said, “Yes, that’s my Jill.”  Eleanor says you couldn’t stop talking about that day for the last 10 months of your life and the story you wrote about your military career and “The Jill” will always be considered a beautiful family heirloom.  


So, “Thanks Dad.” Thanks for being there for us in some of our darkest moments; thanks for being who you are to all of us individually and for hanging around this long as the final member of a Felix generation now gone, except for the photographs and the memories.  


Thanks for thinking of the future and buying that little 8mm Revere movie camera, with the blinding spotlights when I was born and giving us wonderful, forever lasting documentation of our youth; of learning to swim at Silver Point Beach Club; of you teaching us how to play baseball; of family parties and holidays; of many family members, now long gone, including my mother Lorna, your first wife.  Thank you for setting a good example.  Thank you in so many ways I can’t even remember right now.  I do know that we’ll be toasting your life later with…yes, bananas and sour cream.



















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