Born in Germany on October 21, 1940, when the country was occupied by the Nazis and before the U.S. entered World War II, Helga Feldman had a childhood that was spent in an orphanage until “a beloved aunt rescued her and brought her to America, where Helga lived the American dream.”
As a grownup she got a job and received a call one day from a gentleman who worked across the street and explained that he had spied her and thought she would be “his ideal date.” Not quite sure of the invitation, she asked him to step outside for a once-over. To her delight, he was a very good-looking fellow who waved at her. She accepted the invitation immediately. But the date didn’t turn out as Helga had planned. Her date was a man in a wheelchair named Sam Feldman, who suffered from muscular dystrophy. To land the date with Helga, he had gotten the most attractive man in his office to sub in for him. Over dinner, Helga discovered that Sam was “extremely smart and charming.” So much so, they fell in love and married months later, in 1969.
Over the decades of their marriage, Sam became “very well-known in the financial industry,” and Helga became a successful stockbroker and entrepreneur, founding a fashion business.
Their lives together led to their shared love of art, music, travel and dachshunds. They didn’t just dabble in their interests; they created the Sam and Helga Feldman Foundation and embraced it wholeheartedly, making long-lasting friendships along the way.
As Todd Hosfelt recalled, “While Sam had a knack for finding great artists – often well before they were recognized by the market – Helga was the one who was inevitably drawn to the best painting in the room.”
One of those friends was famed artist Jean-Michel Basquait, who captured Sam in a portrait planting an Easter egg of “’HHH’ framed by three little houses in the top right corner of the portrait of Sam, [standing] for ‘Helga’s Happy Home.’”
Even after Sam’s death in 2001 the day after his 63rd birthday, Helga continued the couple’s love of the arts and family as well as singing in the Holy Trinity Catholic Church and adopting a blind rescue dog named Shadow.
Just this past year, as the pandemic ravaged the world, Helga provided three grants at KidneyTexas Inc. for Baylor Health Care System, Children’s Medical Center Foundation and Southwest Transplant Alliance honoring Natalie and David Taylor.
To show their appreciation of Helga’s generosity, KidneyTexas President Rose Gault and 2021 Runway Report Chair Courtney Nall have announced that the annual fundraising event on Tuesday, September 21, will be presented by Helga and the honorary co-chairs will be Natalie and David.
One can’t help but suspect that Helga would be pleased to see the event taking place at the Meyerson, where she and Sam had attended concerts.
But unlike years past, when the Tootsies’ fashions have been displayed on an elevated catwalk, Jan Strimple will produce a “formal floor level fashion presentation.”
While the awardees haven’t been revealed yet, the 2021 beneficiaries include Children’s Medical Center Foundation, Camp Reynal, Texas Health Resources Foundation, Southwest Transplant Alliance and the Parkland Health and Hospital Foundation.
* Photo credit: Dana Driensky ** Photo provided by KidneyTexas Inc. *** Graphic credit: Lynn Dealey