This LifePost will house obituaries, eulogies and other remembrances. A full life story can be found in the LifePosts created for his 90th birthday: https://www.lifeposts.com/p/milestone/60/.../y/lifetimeline/
Click the images above for a glimpse into Marty's world. His full life journey is catalogued in this beautiful LifeTimeline that was created for him for his 90th birthday. Here are the answers to some of the most important questions about Marty. We will be adding eulogies and other reminiscences in the coming weeks. Please add memories of Marty below.
Martin Gordon Waldman, a gifted communications professional, whose career included radio broadcasting, speechwriting, political consulting, public relations, and civic activism, died Sunday. He was 92.
After growing up on Kings Highway in Brooklyn and graduating from N.Y.U. (where he also received a Masters degree), he worked as Director of Radio and TV for the City of New York and an on-air announcer and newscaster for WNYC, which was then owned by the city. Among his broadcasts was the live coverage of the election of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.
He subsequently became an account executive at Young & Rubicam, during the “Mad Men” era of the early days of television, when corporate sponsors helped shape the programming. In that capacity, he discovered a charming local TV personality named Soupy Sales and brought him to network TV.
He met his wife, Sandra Nemser, in 1949, and they married in 1958, more than 61 years ago.
In 1962, he and his wife created a public relations and advertising firm, Communications Planners, Inc. They did advertising for the New York State presidential campaign of Hubert Humphrey in 1968 (“The people of New York must have a President who cares about the people of New York”) and the reelection of Eugene Nickerson as Nassau County Executive (“It Takes a Big Man to Run a Big County”). Other clients and projects included: Writers Guild of America East, Barneys, the Nassau County Medical Society, Local 340 of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Union, the Great Neck Library, Co-Op City, Masters, the Suffolk County Plumbing Industry, Interstate Cigar Company. As spokesman for the Writers Guild, he was instrumental in the successful news writers strike against CBS.
He was a longtime civic leader in Great Neck, where he moved in 1965. He and his wife co-founded COPAY, a pioneering drug treatment program that still exists. He was the president of the Great Neck Library Board and served on the board of Temple Emanuel. He also served as president of N.Y.U.’s Washington Square College Alumni Association.
These accomplishments paled compared to his pride in and love for his family. He is survived by his wife Sandra Waldman; his two sons Michael and Steven...
... his daughters-in-law Amy Cunningham and Liz Fine; and his grandchildren Benjamin, Joseph, Susannah, Gordon and Joshua.
His parents were Max Waldman and Anna Gordon.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MARTY
Dad's answers to big life questions like:
- Is there a phrase that Marty likes to say?
- What are the most important things you've learned from Marty?
- What public figures does Marty admire?
Rabbi Robert Widom
Joshua Waldman reading a letter from Sandra Waldman
Margo Seibert singing "Goodnight My Someone"
The service ended with "The House I Live In," by Frank Sinatra, from the singer's brief liberal phase.
Steven Waldman's eulogy:
When Dad was in his final weeks, he was barely talking. It was not clear what he was hearing or understanding. One day he was lying on the bed, I sat next to him and said, jokingly, “would you like me to tell you a Butchky and Stootchky story?”
You see, when we were little, at bedtime he would tell us a story about Butchky and Stoochky. The stories were built around whatever Steven and Michael had done that day. Notably, these stories did not involve mighty dragons, or wizards or kings. The protagonists were two little boys, me and Michael. WE were the heroes.
They always ended with the phrase, “and butchky and stootchky made it allllll the way home” – at which point he would tickle me. That wasn’t a great way to make me sleepy but it left me happy.
Dad had his flaws. He was an almost pathological worrier. He wasn’t particularly self aware. He couldn’t throw a baseball, which at the time upset me greatly.
But once I became a parent, I realized that dad had a strange genius for parental love. As Michael said, even though dad accomplished many impressive, he genuinely cared about his family much more than any of those.
The first element of this genius was raw adoration. He really thought we could do no wrong. If we got in trouble with a teacher, it was definitely the teacher’s fault. If we had trouble at work, it was the boss who didn’t understand us. Amy likes to tell the story about one time when I was first starting to do a lot of TV interviews. She shared with my father the thought that I might do even better if I worked with a TV coach.
Dad’s response was, “well you wouldn’t want him to be any different than he is, would you?”
On some level, our father approached parenting as, well, a public relations professional. Mike noted that dad didn’t really love his work, or I should say, didn’t really love some of his clients. But really WE were his main clients. He wanted us to believe in ourselves, and was our fiercest advocate. So starting at about age two, I had my own personal flack. And truly, every child should have their own PR agent.
Dad was very kind, very smart – and very ethical. At one point, his biggest PR client was a drug store wholesaler. They wanted him to do PR for one of their products – rolling papers used for marijuana cigarettes. He refused. This may now seem quaint, or even a bit regressive, but he was fiercely anti-drug. And he had helped found the drug treatment program, COPAY. He didn’t want to encourage drug use in any way. He refused to take on the assignment.
What has stayed with me about that story is that it didn’t have a happy ending. Because he refused the assignment, he lost this client, which was devastating to him and the family. His principled stand was NOT rewarded in some Karmic way.
Yet he never stopped being proud of that story. You don’t do things because they will ultimately be rewarded. You do them because you believe it’s right.
Another part of the formula was making sure that neither my brother nor I felt we were favored. It was important to dad that Michael and I have a good relationship. Again, for this only child, family was everything. Once we realized this, Michael and I mischievously used this against him. If we were watching TV and didn’t want him to bother us, we would complain, with anguish in our voice, “dad, you’re driving a wedge between us!” He would scatter away. Eventually we even developed a short-hand: “Dad. Wedge.” It worked.
Dad was a bit of a nerd. He didn’t teach me how to fish or hunt or flirt. Instead, he taught me how to change the aperture settings on the Minolta to get better depth of field. He taught me how to burn the grease off the grill after we’d cooked a London Broil. He taught me why the socialists hated the communists, and why good Jews should never be totally comfortable with the Kennedys. He DIDN’T teach me how to carve a turkey because he insisted on weidling the electric carver right up until his hands shook vigorously.
He taught me that even after 60 years of marriage, you should get your wife a Hallmark card for both Valentines Day and on your Anniversary. And most important, he taught me through his examples, and his stories, what it meant to be a loving father.
When I was sitting there on the bed with him a few weeks ago, asking him about whether I could tell him a Butchky and Stootchky story, he didn’t respond at first. I thought he probably was not hearing or understanding me. Then after about 30 seconds of silence, in a weak, barely audible voice, he said, “you remember my stories?”
Yes, dad, I certainly do, and always will.
Amy Cunningham's remarks:
A woman's connection to her father-in-law can be a fraught but mine was a healthy alliance. Marty was the man who helped create the love of my life. Marty nourished and healed me in ways my own father couldn’t. And Sandy was half the package. I had total trust in both Marty and Sandy’s judgement. In fact, whenever Steve and I got stuck in the parenting department, Steve would ask "Should I call my parents?" and my answer was always YES.
In reflecting upon my many hours with Marty, two times I was alone with him come to mind. The first is when I was in the final hours of pregnancy with our first son Joe. I was on that savage precipice every mother knows—Steve and I were transitioning from being a freewheeling couple to a serious family. As the baby was due and Steve was needed at the office, it was decided that Marty would come from New York to Washington --just to be with me. I had read that a bit of healthy exercise could catapult a woman into labor, so Marty and I and my big belly set out to the local school yard where I vigorously walked around and around a baseball diamond until I was tired. Marty (who was never much of an exerciser), stayed on a bench in the near distance, waving me on. This worked. Labor started that night, and we had a baby the next day.
Four years later, I badly sprained my ankle trying to save three-year-old Joe from a goose that I thought was going to attack him. Steve was traveling and I was isolated in our row house with only one good foot, baby Gordon to nurse and a toddler not yet in school full-time. Marty flew down again, did it all, played with Joe, brought the baby to me while I stayed in bed recuperating. Now that I'm a bit older and wiser, I can better see the gifts of those rare people in the world who are totally there for you.
Sandy, I know that after sixty-one years of marriage with perhaps only three weeks ever being separated, life will seem surreal for quite a while. We want you to know that we will always, always be there for you as you have been for us. This grief we’re now experiencing will never really go away but I’m confident we’ll learn to carry it by relying on the many strengths of our family.
Sandra Waldman's remarks:
Marty was the love of my life. We met in 1949, were married in 1958, and stayed together for more than 61 years.
The past few months have been the most difficult we had. Following his fall in March and his late diagnosis of back fracture, he was in a lot of pain. When it became clear that he needed constant medical care, and we could no longer stay in our apartment, our sons and their wives scouted around and found Brookdale, a senior residence in lower Manhattan for people like us. While we still had hopes of moving back uptown, we had wonderful attention and care at Brookdale.
We could not have gotten through this rough time without the professional care and personal attention of two aides—Shantie Steele and Georgia Stewart Kerr , both here today. You two made our time in apartment 1107 tolerable. You showed Marty how to walk without falling and maneuvered his wheelchair easily. Thank you. I will never forget you.
Marty used to ask me at least 20 times every day, “Are you OK?” It said a lot about him that even though HE was in so much pain, what was most on his mind was how I was doing.
Now when I wake up and stare at the empty side of the bed, I ask, “Marty, are you OK?”
Thank you for coming.
FROM MARIA ELISA CUADRA, CEO OF COPAY
I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your dad. I was so very fond of him and enjoyed talking to him about COPAY and many topics. He was a great person and his legacy has always been felt at this agency, for sure. Thousands upon thousands of families have greatly benefitted from the care offered by COPAY and we have countless success stories! I will miss your dad, the conversations we had, his annual holiday card, and his warmth and intelligence. I extend my heart felt condolences to you and your entire family.