Malcolm Becker died unexpectedly on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence at the age of 75.
Six days prior to his death he had undergone successful hip replacement surgery and had been scheduled to begin an intensive rehabilitation program designed to allow him to resume a relatively more active and pain free lifestyle. His indomitable spirit and will were held hostage by a body ravaged by multiple pathological processes that could not withstand this additional assault. Despite the cumulative efforts of skilled physicians, medical and technological interventions and strategies, and every heroic measure available, with his son Bruce and daughter Nicole keeping vigil and his wife, Sindy, holding his hand, his life could not be sustained. With critical organs in failure, against all clinical predictions his fragile heart kept beating. Malcolm fought to stay alive until after midnight, to still be with Sindy for her birthday, October 21. Their marriage, forged in love kept them bonded for 55 years-till death did them part.
The son of Sylvia and Max, he was born on March 14, 1934 in Brooklyn. He was predeceased by his brother Seymour and is survived by his 90-year-old sister, Ruth. In sole support of his mother he started working in the garment industry as a youth, initially as a shipping clerk and then as a salesman. His strong motivation and ever increasing acquisition of skills and experience allowed for his rise to upper echelon positions shortly thereafter. He became a partner and president of Pelican Harbor, the CEO of all children’s wear divisions including Perry Ellis and Gottex for Manhattan Industries and the President and CEO of Breaking Waves Swimwear. He established a 40-year track record as a leader in the fashion field with a diverse background and expertise in design, sourcing via international travel, merchandising and the functional aspects of business including production, management and manufacturing. In 1982 he received the coveted fashion industry award the “Earnie” for excellence in design. Following cardiac bypass surgery in 1997 he sold his home in Manhattan Beach giving up his boat and the ocean to become a full-time resident of Fleischmanns. For several years he commuted to his office in Manhattan twice a week then phased out to do consulting from home, and ultimately retired without any regrets.
Malcolm became actively involved in the Fleischmanns Community and undertook administrative duties serving as a member of the Planning Board since 1988, on the Board of Trustees and as Deputy Mayor since 2001 and as Acting Mayor until the past Village Election in March 2009. He coordinated the planning and implementation of the Water Treatment System and oversaw road maintenance, repair and traffic and parking safety issues. In recognition of his committed efforts and accomplishments in service to the village he was posthumously honored with a commemorative plaque from the Fleischmanns Community.
He was a dedicated outdoorsman and avid fisherman. He introduced his father-in-law, Harold Weiss to the joys of boating and the beauty of the ocean and deep-sea fishing. Harold reciprocated by teaching him the art of fly-fishing. Malcolm, his son Bruce and Harold shared many memorable male bonding trips to primitive fishing camps in Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, the Florida Keys and Alaska.
In 1951 Malcolm’s best friend, Sy, vacationing with his parents at the St. Regis Hotel in Fleischmanns, met Sindy at Lake Switzerland. They dated, and Sy took numerous pictures of his newfound girlfriend to show his friends upon his return to Brooklyn. In September he arranged a double date, bringing Malcolm for Sindy’s sister, Benita. Midway through the evening, what was meant to be was set in motion-the pairing of Sindy and Malcolm. They were married on September 11, 1954. The couple lived in Manhattan Beach for 32 years and spent summers and holidays at the family home, “The Roseland” prior to their permanent relocation to Fleischmanns in 1997. Malcolm and Sindy traveled the world with their best friends Rene (Geller) and Dick Kern visiting exotic locales and cultures in Greece, Kenya, China, Tanzania, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, Tibet, Senegal, Tunisia, Hungary and the Galapagos Islands. They and their children, Bruce and Nicole, learned to ski at Belleayre Mountain.
Subsequently, they skied in Europe and many of the well-known areas “out west” but loved Belleayre, their “home away from home” the most. Malcolm savored the beauty and therapeutic environment of the mountains and streams and until health issues limited his mobility, he fished, did gardening and romped with a succession of German Shepherds. For 34 years Malcolm worked with Sindy preparing the Fleischmanns Open Tennis Tournament. The couple enjoyed an active and engaged lifestyle. They attended concerts at Belleayre and other local festivities and socialized with an ever widening circle of wonderful friends.
For all creatures on this planet, life is transient, ephemeral and ultimately finite. All our days are numbered. For Malcom the numbers fell short of the hopes and expectations of his family and friends. Malcolm’s inherent characteristics, he was unassuming, altruistic, non-judgmental, impartial and objective, fair and respectful with a great sense of humor and intuitiveness about human nature, elicited love from everyone who knew him. He was unique, described by many as a very special “gentle man.” For his family, his role was that of treasured patriarch, guide, counselor and mentor, sharing his street smarts, bestowing his wisdom and instilling his values. Malcom is irreplaceable. He leaves a permanent unfillable void in the lives of his bereft family and multitude of grieving friends.
A kaleidoscope is an optical instrument in which glass shards are refracted, and with each turning rearranged, forming an infinite variety of ever changing patterns. Thus no two people who hold the instrument to their eye and peer into it see the same shape. There is no single fixed reality. A different image is projected to each viewer. Like a Rorschach, they represent what the viewer thinks he sees or wants to envision. Image and meaning are embedded in personal histories and experience. “Reality” is a disassembled and rearranged construct. Its fragmented parts and its whole are an illusive chimera, perceived in the eye and the mind of each individual. Thus it is with memories, the legacy Malcolm bequeathed. Each individual reconfigures the fragments of remembrance which, when reassembled create different images of events and experiences. These recollected memories are what remain. They are cherished heirlooms to be retold, handed down, passed on transgenerationally thereby creating living legends as legacy, and transcending the unbridgeable chasm that separates the departed from the mourners. These memories are legion-a testament to the substance and content of a life well lived, Malcolm leaves a visible and tangible legacy-his progeny. They represent ongoing links and the true meaning of life. His time, albeit too short, has been a gift and a blessing.
He is survived by his wife, Sindy; his children, Drs. Bruce and Tanya Becker of Barrington, Rhode Island and Nicole and David Cairrao of Bristol, Rhode Island; his precious grandchildren, Zachary, Benjamin and Samuel Becker and Blake and Brooke Cairrao and his 18-month-old German Shepherd, Simba who remains faithfully waiting for the return of his best friend.
Funeral services took place at 11 a.m. October 25 at the Overlook Lodge at Belleayre Mountain. His son, Bruce delivered the eulogy. For his final journey Malcolm was outfitted in fishing regalia that was a true representation of who and what he was and what he loved to do—Bruce’s fishing vest rigged with special flies, an old favorite rod and his fishing hat from “The Broadwalk” in Alaska.
Burial and graveside services were at the Fleischmanns cemetery. Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the E.B. Gormley Funeral Home in Phoenicia.