Ben Feldman, 103, most senior and longest Covenant Place resident

Ben Feldman

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Ben Feldman, the oldest and longest-term resident of Covenant Place, died Monday, April 21. He was 103 and much beloved by his family, friends, fellow residents and staff at Covenant.

Joan Denison, executive director of Covenant Place, told the Jewish Light, “Ben started his residency with his late wife, Leona, shortly after Covenant House I opened in 1975. He was our longest-term resident to date, and a truly remarkable and wonderful person.”

Carol Wolf Solomon, one of Mr. Feldman’s grandchildren, said in remarks at his funeral:

“What can I say about such an amazing 103 years of life lived to its absolute fullest? My grandfather made an indelible impression on everyone he met. He was an inspiration to us all.


“There are countless stories that can be told, from his die-hard love of the baseball Cardinals to his penchant for cowboy movies. He was thrilled when he received an authentic Cardinals jersey on his 100th birthday with his name and the number 100 on the back, as well as a birthday card personally signed by Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan. I think this even trumped the letter he received from President (Barack) Obama.”

Another grandchild, Brian Siegel, sent a statement that was read at Mr. Feldman’s funeral. It expressed similar sentiments of affection and admiration. 

“Could I be sadder than I am? Not really,” Siegel wrote. “Losing you as a guiding light in my life, our family, the world, was something I thought would never come to pass. You were always a shining beacon in our worlds, a pillar of strength. You were the definition of determination, never allowing the obstacles the world placed on you to slow you down. … A noble man from a different generation, instilling values in me to pass on to the world.”

Ben Feldman was born Dec. 18, 1910, in the Bessarabia region of Russia, possibly in Kishinev, according to family members. He was the son of Sam and Bessie Perisiper Feldman. 

Mr. Feldman immigrated to America as a young child of 3 or 4 with his mother and older brother Mike. The family took up residence in St. Louis, where Sam Feldman had settled a few years before. Four more children followed. He completed his education through the eighth grade.

In St. Louis, Mr. Feldman spent his working days in the clothing business, originally as a furrier, and later in women’s clothing. He worked as a furrier at Kline’s Department Store and later at the original downtown location of Lane Bryant. He was later named manager of the Lane Bryant store at Westroads Shopping Center (now the St. Louis Galleria). 

Deteriorating eyesight caused by macular degeneration forced him to retire in 1969 at the age of 59.

Mr. Feldman was married for 57 years to the late Leona Runetzky Feldman, who died in 1991. They had two daughters, Nancy Wolf (the late Richard) of St. Louis and Marilyn Siegel (Barry) of Aptos, Calif.

Not only was Mr. Feldman the oldest, longest-term resident of Covenant Place (formerly Covenant House), but he was active in all aspects of the apartment complex. He was a former president of the Covenant House All Sports Club and used to regularly help set tables for dinner. He was a member of the Jewish Community Center and enjoyed playing sports there well into his 80s.

Wolf Solomon recalled: “My grandfather deeply touched the lives of his many special and caring friends and neighbors at Covenant House, which he always referred to as his ‘country club.’ ”

Survivors, in addition to Mr. Feldman’s two daughters, include six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

A graveside service for Mr. Feldman was held Wednesday, April 23, at the Chevra Kadisha Cemetery. Rabbi Lane Steinger of Shir Hadash officiated. Also participating in the service were Rabbi Jim Bennett and Rabbi Andrea Goldstein of Congregation Shaare Emeth.

In his eulogy, Steinger said Mr. Feldman “enjoyed and savored life and lived with zest and exuberance.” 

Noting that Mr. Felman was active until late in his life, playing basketball, volleyball and shuffleboard at the JCC, Steinger said: “He was fond of telling people that he and Leona had moved to Covenant Place so they could be close to the Jewish Community Center. Most of all, Ben cherished — and was cherished by — his dear ones.”

Contributions in Mr. Feldman’s memory may be made to Covenant Place or to a charity of the donor’s choice.