Feingolds always ready to lend a helping hand
Longtime Claremont residents Jerry and Maury Feingold know the value of community service. This firecracker couple, with warm smiles and a gregarious demeanor, has devoted untold time and energy serving those in the city they call home, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“At some point in your life, you must do something for which you are not paid, but which will make you feel good by helping other people,” Ms. Feingold says. “By our involvement in all of the things that we do in our community, we’ve not only met many wonderful friends. I think we’ve made a difference in people’s lives.”
In recognition of their acts of service, Mr. and Ms. Feingold have been chosen as Claremont’s 2015 Fourth of July Honored Citizens, a mark of distinction bestowed up them by the Blue Ribbon Committee. The committee is comprised of representatives from the Claremont City Council, the school board, the Community and Human Services Commission and the Independence Day Committee as well as delegates from local service organizations and religious groups.
The title of Honored Citizen is an accolade these longtime Claremont residents share with friend and fellow Independence Day Committee member Robin Gottuso, who nominated the Feingolds based on their laurels.
“Evidently, the Blue Ribbon Committee kept voting and Jerry, Robin and I kept coming up as a tie,” explains Ms. Feingold. “Steven Collins called to tell us the news and I thought he was kidding, then I started to cry. It was really nice of them to do that.”
Ms. Gottuso is thrilled to stand alongside the Feingolds during this year’s festivities.
“I look at both of them as individuals and as a couple, and they’ve done a lot in all their years in Claremont. I couldn’t think of anyone else I would want to share this with. I’m thrilled to sit with them and enjoy this experience together.”
Mr. and Ms. Feingold’s story began over five decades ago, just east of Claremont in the town of Pomona. Maury had graduated from the University of Minnesota and was offered a teaching job at Hamilton Elementary School. With the location fulfilling a requirement imposed by her mother, she accepted a second grade teaching post.
“We’re Jewish, and my mother said I had to go somewhere where there was a temple or synagogue, and there was one in Pomona,” explained Ms. Feingold. “I went to temple the Friday night I came in, and Jerry was there with his parents. He’d just returned from three-and-half years in Germany while in the Air Force. We were the same age and we just connected.”
On July 7, 1962, the couple married in St. Paul, Minnesota following a two-year courtship. They lived briefly in Montclair and Pomona before settling in the City of Trees in 1974. The husband and wife purchased a home in north Claremont and have remained there for nearly 41 years.
“We thought the Claremont schools were good. We knew some people who lived here,” Ms. Feingold recalls. “It seemed like a nice place to raise children, and it has definitely exceeded our expectations.”
After four years of teaching at Pomona Unified School District, Ms. Feingold spent the next 17 years staying home and raising the couple’s children—Lisa, David and Daniel—volunteering with various school organizations and undertaking sports-mom duties while Jerry was busy supporting the family, traveling as a manufacturing rep for several children’s clothing lines.
“While I was doing that, I had my own sporting goods company called Such A Deal,” says Mr. Feingold. “When I got off the road, I just continued doing it and it’s still going today.”
Established in 1984, the Claremont-based business is thriving. The couple works together, offering sports equipment to schools, and is a staple at Village Venture as well as in various boutiques throughout the southland.
“The school boutiques are happy to have us, because what parent coming in isn’t going to spend $5 on a ball?” Ms. Feingold says. “Even the kids coming through, if they have $5, they can buy something and it’s not something that needs a battery. It’s something they can use for a little exercise.”
As their kids got older and with Mr. Feingold traveling less for work, Ms. Feingold returned to Pomona to teach another 16 years. Upon her retirement in 2003, she jumped into more activities within the Claremont community. She’s previously served on the Senior Finance Committee, has been on the Community and Human Services Commission since 2002 and has worked on the Youth and Family Master Plan updates.
In addition to substitute teaching a couple days a week, Ms. Feingold serves on the Senior Excursion Committee, which provides the older-adult community with a low-cost means to discover the best of southern California through its cultural activities, captivating art and rich history.
“People who live all around here say Claremont has the best senior trips of anybody,” she says proudly, noting, “They do fill up quick.”
As if that weren’t enough, the Feingolds have for the past 12 years dedicated one day a week to Pomona Valley Hospital, where Jerry drives the shuttle and Maury works in the surgical waiting room.
They both also serve on the Independence Day Committee, and take great joy in participating in Claremont’s beloved summer celebration.
“We’ve always enjoyed the Fourth of July in Claremont and thought we should get more involved,” says Ms. Feingold. “Jerry and I have been in charge of the Claremont Idol and the theme contest for the years we’ve been on the committee. Our responsibility is over on the Fourth, so we just trouble-shoot and assist with whatever needs to be done that day.”
As a nearly 10-year member of the Kiwanis Club of Claremont, Mr. Feingold does double-duty on the Fourth of July, aiding with the city events as well as donning his blue shirt to help out with Kiwanis’ traditional Pancake Breakfast at Memorial Park.
The proceeds from the morning event help support a variety of organizations and community events, but you won’t find Mr. Feingold behind the griddle.
“You wouldn’t want to eat my pancakes!” he says with a hearty laugh. “Instead, I get involved with the set-up. I’ve never joined an organization to just sit in a chair. You can’t just sit on the sidelines. Where’s the fun in that?”
Married for nearly 53 years, the Feingolds are proof-positive that the couple that plays together stays together. When they’re not dedicating their time to helping others, they love to travel to distant lands such as China, Europe, Mexico and the Mediterranean as evidenced by the many photos and artifacts displayed throughout their home.
Two large maps—one of the world and another of the United States—hang on the wall in their home office and serve as a reminder of the places they’ve experienced together.
“Every time we go someplace, we put a push-pin in,” explains Ms. Feingold. “We still have places to go and things to do. This year, we’re going to Alaska, then Hershey and Amish country in Pennsylvania and finally a Caribbean cruise at the end of the year.”
When they’re not traveling, these active Claremonters spend as much time as possible with their five grandchildren—Hailey, JT, Julie, Lauren and Matthew.
“The grandkids keep busy with school, sports and activities, but we text,” says Ms. Feingold. “I’m a modern grandma. That’s why I had to get the iPhone—so I could keep up with the grandkids!”
For Mr. and Ms. Feingold, the experience of serving the people in and around Claremont not only provides them with the opportunity to give back. It has also enabled them to appreciate the gifts they have been given.
“We feel very blessed that we’re healthy and we’re able to give back to the community,” says Ms. Feingold. “My mom used to say, ‘If you have your health, you have everything.’ I think how blessed we are that we are able to take care of ourselves, to be independent, to still have each other and be able to still give to the community. I’m just thankful for that every day, because there are so many people who can’t.”