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Remembering Ray Feldner by Gonen Haklay

mesothelioma victim Ray Feldner and his wife BarbaraRay Feldner passed away this morning at the age of 76.  It was two-and-a-half years ago that I first met Ray and his wife Barbara, just days after Ray had been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. In all that time, whatever services and help we provided to them, Ray and Barbara provided us with more in return.  Ray went through so many of the physical and emotional pains that all mesothelioma sufferers are forced to endure – surgeries, intense pain, repeated chemotherapies with their horrendous side effects – but what I remember most was his devotion to Barbara and to family.  Even as he suffered from his fatal illness, he was more worried about being a burden to Barbara than he was about his own future.  Barbara, for her part, is one of the strongest people I’ve ever met, dealing with Ray’s difficulties, with the lawsuit, and with family with grace, persistence, and patience.

As with so many victims of mesothelioma, Ray was as hard-working as a person could be.  He was exposed to asbestos while working alongside family members in the railroad, while testing satellite parts to make sure they were fit to be sent into space, and while maintaining and repairing thermoanalyzers at labs, universities, and large companies.  At one of the many days of deposition that Ray endured with patience, he told us that he loved every one of his jobs; he saw the value not only in work, but in the importance of what he was doing.  Ray  spoke enthusiastically about the science, the engineering, and the mechanics of his work.  He would patiently repeat the specifics to me so that I would understand the basics of his vast knowledge.

Ray’s devotion to family, to hard work, and his sense of duty shone through in 2009, after his retirement.  Life took an unexpected path and Ray and Barbara pushed for and were granted legal custody of their granddaughter Jessica, who was then 12 years old.  Without hesitation, at the age of 73, Ray immediately went out and found fulltime work running a shift at a bakery, all so that Ray and Barbara would be able to send Jessica to college.  Unfortunately, within weeks Ray received his diagnosis and could no longer work.  Still, one subject I always knew was close to his heart was Jessica, and her talent for softball, even as Ray despaired that he was not strong enough anymore to play catch with her, or even to attend her games. Thankfully, as a result of the settlement of this case Ray passed with peace of mind, knowing that his granddaughter could go to college and that Barbara would be financially secure.

Ray was an active man, and his loss of mobility and increased pain caused him to suffer more than physically.  Nevertheless, he retained his sense of humor, and remained gracious and kind.  Everybody in our office that had any dealings with the Feldners grew fond of them.  Simply put, they are good people.  I am sorry that it was because of Ray’s mesothelioma that I met the Feldners.  However, I will never be sorry that I met them, and feel privileged to have been able to represent them.  The world is a better place for having good people in it, and Ray was one of those people.

Gonen Haklay, Esq.

C / P / R

Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C.
Two Commerce Square
2001 Market Street, Suite 2900 / Philadelphia, PA 19103
215.567.3500 / 215.567.6019 (fax)

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