Sydney Walter Brody October 5, 1924 – July 17, 2022
Sydney Walter Brody died in Burlington, Massachusetts at the age of 97. He is survived by daughters Leslie and Marilyn; sons-in-law Lance Davidow and Howard Rothberg; grandchildren Jennie (married to Amir Mehdizadeh), Rachel, and Matthew; great-granddaughter Sara; and many beloved nieces and nephews. His wife of 70 wonderful years, Shirley Davidowitz Brody, pre-deceased him in 2018. In the last year of his life, he met Betty Steudel at their assisted living center and their relationship gave him great joy.
Syd was born in the Bronx, New York to Rebecca (nee Friedman) and Harry Brody, Eastern European Jewish immigrants. In a close-knit family of seven children, he was the youngest along with his twin sister Rosemary, with three older sisters, Mollie, Jean, and Ruth, and two older brothers, Samuel and Charles (all deceased). He graduated from James Monroe High School in 1941 at the age of 17. In a high school Hebrew class, he met Shirley, who wrote and handed in a book report in his name that she knew he would not get around to writing, and her beauty and brains earned his lifelong love and devotion. He was the first in his family to get a college degree, graduating from CCNY with a major in History, and he took classes toward a master’s degree at NYU. In the middle of his college career, he trained in the Air Force in Texas in preparation for WWII combat. The war ended before he was sent overseas. For more than 40 years, he was employed at JP Stevens doing textile sales and product development, working his way up to management, and developing close connections with his work colleagues.
Syd was a brilliant man: a philosopher, a poet, a photographer, a lover of music, literature, theatre and art, a caretaker, an avid reader, a competitive bridge, poker and scrabble player, an expert in textiles and fabrics, and as he referred to himself, an all-around “good guy”. He started writing poetry at age 75, and his poems enthralled several generations of listeners with their heartfelt wisdom, especially his spellbinding poem “Where Are You?” about losing a loved one. Despite having no formal training, his photographs of people and nature were works of art, with one photo of a flower winning a prize at the New York State Fair when he was in his 70’s. . One of his mottos was “never miss a party”, and he was the family photographer at the many family bar mitzvahs, weddings, and birthdays he attended, often gifting people with photo albums he put together especially for their “simcha”. He loved the ocean, and spent many wonderful summer vacations at Cape Cod with his daughters and grandchildren. He and Shirley travelled widely both in the U.S. and abroad.
Syd loved life and his acceptance that life is both full of joy and also full of pain gave him an equanimity that is rare. He had three sayings that he repeated to help people through tough times: “Life is beautiful and…. also tragic.”; “You’re well until you’re not”; and “Take it one day at a time”. He had a gift of being able to be fully present in conversations with family and friends, celebrating their lives and recognizing their struggles.
We will miss Syd fiercely. He had a beautiful life, and our lives are so much more beautiful because of him. If you wish to make a donation in Syd’s memory, please contribute to Fountain House at 425 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036 .
Where Are You
by Sydney Brody
Where are you
You left long ago to a Place I do not know
Are you here ?
Or there ?
Or where ?
Are you warm in the sun, or
Bundled up in the cold
Can you swim in the ocean, or
Fly in the sky
Is there laughter; can you cry ?
Where are you
DO YOU HEAR ME
But know this,
Wherever you are, I miss you.