Dmitry Feld
Dmitry Feld

Obituary of Dmitry Jacob Feld

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(The following tribute to Dmitry Feld is published here courtesy of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and Lake Placid News.) Lake Placid mourns loss of community leader Dmitry Feld SYDNEY EMERSON, OLIVER REIL and PARKER O’BRIEN Staff Writer and Sports Editor       LAKE PLACID — USA Luge Marketing Manager and Ukraine expatriate Dmitry Feld ended many of his emails “Big Hug” or simply “D.” As a community leader, D had big hugs for everyone ... until Wednesday, Jan. 10, when he died at a Burlington hospital at the age of 68.       Having grown up in Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, he was a relentless supporter of his home country since Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014 and invaded the rest of the country on Feb. 24, 2022. He spent countless hours sourcing supplies for Ukraine’s army and citizens and shipping them across the Atlantic for almost two years. He even traveled to Ukraine in October 2022 with Saranac Lake veterinarian Dr. John Cogar, bringing much-needed drones for the army and pet supplies for dogs and cats in the capital region.       When Feld was named the village of Lake Placid and town of North Elba Adult Distinguished Volunteer of the Year on April 27 at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, then North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi addressed the crowd.       “I was talking to Dmitry earlier, and he said what a beautiful day this was,” Politi said. “‘In Russia, they’d call this summer.’ I’m know you’re glad to be here, Dmitry, rather than there, and we’re glad to have you.”       Feld is being remembered by his friends and colleagues as a loving husband and father, tireless humanitarian and friend to all.       “We are all shocked at this time,” USA Luge CEO Jim Leahy wrote in an email. “May this wonderful man rest in peace. Please keep his wife Linda and son Dima in your thoughts and prayers.”       Feld was the president of the Shipman Youth Center board and co-organizer of the annual I Love BBQ and Music Festival. Feld, a native of Kyiv, Ukraine who moved to Lake Placid in 1984, also became the local face of humanitarian efforts to aid Ukraine after Russia invaded in 2022, tirelessly organizing fundraisers and supply drives.       “He was a miracle man,” said Jason Hooker, director of the Shipman Youth Center. “Most of the community already knows all the work he’s done for Ukraine and everything with the humanitarian efforts for that, but for here at the Youth Center, from my perspective, he put so much on his back.”       “The work he did with the Shipman Youth Center and the luge will be greatly missed in the community,” Lake Placid Mayor Art Devlin said.       Leahy said in an email Wednesday that Feld, who had previously been treated for cancer, took ill during the Christmas holidays.       “The leukemia that had been in remission for a couple of years reared it heads again,” Leahy wrote. “He was really struggling during this time with his breathing. In the last couple of days he developed RSV and pneumonia. He was intubated last night with the hope of improving his breathing.”       Feld’s coworker Gordy Sheer said he was admitted to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake before being transported to the UVM Medical Center in Burlington. “Go-getter”       Butch Martin, the former park district manager for the town of North Elba who worked closely with Feld on the I Love BBQ and Music Festival, said Feld was a “go-getter.”       “You couldn’t say no to him,” Martin said. “He’d come up and ask a thing that you just probably couldn’t do but because it was him, you went out and did it. And his heart was in it for everybody and everything. He just worked for the community, worked for everything he did, and he did it with a smile on. He’ll be missed a lot.”       Saranac Lake’s village manager and Feld’s close family friend, Bachana Tsiklauri, wrote in a text message that Feld’s passing was a “great loss to the community” and remembered fondly Feld’s signature signoff: “Big hug.”       Feld was an enthusiastic volunteer who lent his time and attention to a variety of causes around the community. He was named Volunteer of the Year by the Enterprise and Lake Placid News in 2010 and received the Liberty Bell Award, an award for being an outstanding citizen, from the Essex County Bar Association that same year. Feld was also involved with charities such Haiti Direct Relief International and the Adirondack Arc. He raised tens of thousands of dollars for his native Ukraine. From Ukraine to Lake Placid by sled       Feld was born in 1955 in Kamchatka, Russia — at the time, the Soviet Union. When he was about 3 years old, his family moved to Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, for a couple of years before moving to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.       Growing up, Feld played soccer, which he said he was not very fond of because he was small, and got stepped on often. He discovered luge at 15 when he saw pictures of the sport in a newspaper and figured that he might like it, telling the Lake Placid News in 2009 it was because it involved only one man with nobody else to blame if one failed. He called a newspaper to get the name of the venue to pursue: “Zenit.” He liked it so much that he bought his own sled. His mother was a worrier, so instead of telling her the truth about his new venture, he told her that he would be away playing table tennis.       When Feld was 16, he began sliding with the Ukrainian luge team. When he was 18, he joined the Soviet Army as part of his compulsory military service, spending two years in the far east, not far away from Kamchatka, near the Chinese border.       In 1979, Feld moved to America, arriving in New York City first before heading north to the Adirondacks. He first visited Lake Placid to watch the Soviet luge team, returning in 1982 as a volunteer training young sliders at Mount Van Hoevenberg. It was in Lake Placid that he met his wife, Linda, whom he married in 1989. He became a U.S. citizen in Plattsburgh in 2001. “He made me feel special”       Feld was hired as a full-time coach by USA Luge in 1984.       He coached dozens of young athletes including 1998 Olympic silver medalist Gordy Sheer, who is now USA Luge’s marketing director. The two have worked together since 2005.       “The first person I met was Dmitry,” Sheer said. “He made me feel welcomed, he made me feel special and did all of those things that Dmitry does.”       Sheer admits that he and Feld would often bicker at work. And about once every other year, Feld would quit.       “By quit, I mean he’d quit for about a minute,” Sheer said. “What I’ve really come to value about those fights is that at least we got to tell each other that we loved one another after those fights.”       Feld has worked toward the promotion and development of luge, bobsled and skeleton in marketing, communications and sponsorship roles. His work has taken him to the last six Olympic Winter Games.       “Dmitry’s contribution to USA Luge is almost immeasurable. It’s been said that he was the heart and soul of USA Luge,” Sheer said. “If you look through our list of supporters and friends, Dmitry is the root of a tremendous number of partnerships. It was never about anything other than Dmitry being a great guy and making people feel a part of what was going on and making them feel like they were important because they were important to Dmitry.       It wasn’t an act. He truly cared about anyone and everyone,” he said. “The proof was that he remembered anything and everything about anyone he ever met. He really genuinely cared.”       Leahy, who knew Feld for almost 11 years, said he was more than a colleague, he became part of his family.       “My boys actually called him Uncle Dmitry after spending almost a week with him on an Alaskan Fishing trip. He was one of a kind,” he said.       He was fun traveling to an airport with, because he’d see people that he knew over the years just walking to the airport.       “I’d be like, ‘Dmitry, we need to get to the terminal over here, you’re talking to all of these people. How do you know all of these people?’” Leahy said. “Not many of us could meet somebody from 30 years ago and remember their names and where they met him. It was amazing that he could meet somebody and remember you and 30 years later, he’d remember exactly where he met you and what your name was. He had that rare quality.”       His office at USA Luge always looked like “a bomb had hit it,” Leahy said. But he always knew where everything was.       “He was a traditional type of guy that still used his Rolodex,” Leahy said. “When it came to new technology, (he’d ask) the people in our office, whether it was Gordy or Lizzy, ‘How do you work this new phone,’ or ‘How do you work this new computer.’ But he was a joy to be around. He loved luge and he loved this organization.”       Leahy remembers his first time meeting Feld. He had just come over from the hockey world where he typically wore a suit and tie.       “I had a blazer on and an open-collared shirt, with wingtips and a pair of slacks,” he said. “When I walked in, he said, ‘Pretty soon, we’ll have you address Adirondack style.’”       Leahy admitted he never got to the point of wearing shorts in the middle of February.       “But he broke me of that jacket and tie pretty quickly,” Leahy said.       Leahy attempted to make Feld “dress up” for a Luge Congress event in Innsbruck, Austria. Something Feld didn’t care to do.       “I said to him that ‘if we’re going to represent the U.S. at this meeting you need to have a coat and tie on,’” Leahy said.       Feld had borrowed a jacket from a friend and wore a tie that went back to the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.       “When he walked into that Congress and people that had known him for years were blown away that he had a jacket and a tie on,” Leahy said. “He said, ‘My boss made me do this.’”       Leahy said Feld “was the fabric” of USA Luge.       “Nobody is alone in their grief with Dmitry,” Sheer said. Ukraine aid       Feld was known for his extensive charitable work not only in Lake Placid, but also internationally. Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Feld organized the donation of hundreds of thousands of pounds of equipment and supplies to the frontlines, hospitals and schools. Leahy said that Feld single-handedly raised over $100,000 for the Ukraine effort.       “The Ukrainians were just here for the World Cup in December, he made sure that he worked with me to get the visas,” Leahy said. “While they were here, he did everything he possibly could to make them comfortable.       “Probably his last act with them was when we had a big party with all of the sponsors and there were probably over 200 people that showed up and he made sure that there was a table for the Ukrainian athletes to sit at. When we introduced them to the crowd, they got a standing ovation. He took a great of pride in doing the little things.”       Feld, with the help of the village of Lake Placid, organized the purchase of 20 Ukrainian flags that were hung on light poles along on Main Street in March 2022. At the time, Feld said he told Mayor Devlin that he’d personally pay for the flags, but Feld’s friend, village Electrical Superintendent Kimball Daby, fronted the $1,850 bill. Feld offered to reimburse Daby, but Sheer suggested they fundraise the flags through USA Luge. Feld raised enough donations in a single day.       “He was certainly a person that got things done, and I don’t know anyone that didn’t like him,” Daby said. “I just know no one else could do the barbecue fest like Dmitry did. And Dmitry would do anything for anybody.”       In August 2023, Feld hosted two Kyiv teachers, Svitlana Shevchenko and Natalia Oshzova, and showed them around Lake Placid. He had organized an annual school-supply drive for their school. A month later, Feld and a group of friends packed a minivan full of used sneakers to be shipped (van and all) to Ukraine. Feld said sneakers were a huge request from the Ukranian Army, as they went through them quickly. He collected around 150 pairs.       Feld also traveled to Ukraine to administer aid. In October 2022, he and longtime friend John Cogar, a veterinarian in Saranac Lake, traveled overseas. Feld assisted Cogar as a translator while Cogar worked with a nonprofit agency that helped abandoned cats and dogs in war-torn parts of Ukraine.       Cogar said that Feld was immediately popular with the locals.       “He hadn’t been to Ukraine in 40 years, he told me, and we were in this little region of Ukraine. We were there for two days, and I’d be walking up and down the street ... all these Ukrainian people would say, ‘Where’s Dmitry?’ In other words, they knew Dmitry after being there for two days.”       Cogar added that Feld was an example to his community.       “He was just the opposite of what’s going on in our world today,” he said. “He did not cause conflict. He brought people together. I think all of our goals should be to help him carry on the mission of peace and victory for Ukraine.” Volunteerism       The annual I Love BBQ Festival, of which Feld was the volunteer general manager, accounted for nearly a third of the center’s budget.       Feld was involved with Haiti Direct Relief International, which helps to provide medical assistance to improve the quality of life for people affected by poverty, disaster and civil unrest.       He served on the board of the Adirondack Arc, an organization whose mission is to provide opportunities to people with developmental disabilities.       When named the Volunteer of the Year in 2017, the Lake Placid-North Elba National Volunteer Week Committee said they awarded Feld for his volunteer service with numerous nonprofit groups and boards, which displayed an outstanding commitment to the community and beyond, working to improve the lives of others.       “If everybody could be more like Feld, this world would be a better place,” Sheer said.       (Lake Placid News Editor/Publisher Andy Flynn contributed to this report.)
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2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Sunday, January 14, 2024
M B Clark Inc Funeral Home - Lake Placid
2310 Saranac Ave.
Lake Placid, New York, United States
(518) 523-3337

Celebration of Life

1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Tuesday, March 19, 2024
Lake Placid Olympic Arena
Main Street
Lake Placid, New York, United States

Memorial Donations in Memory of Dmitry Feld

To support the family, checks made payable to Linda Feld, as well as cash donations in a sealed envelope, are being accepted at USA Luge headquarters, 57 Church Street in Lake Placid, NY.
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Dmitry Feld

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Dmitry Feld

1955 - 2024

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