Sid Eulogy by Earl C. Brown


By Earl C. Brown, Ph.D (12-23-74)

  Sidney died on Monday morning, December 2, at his home in Gainesville, Florida. He had repaired the starter on his old Triumph; a jack gave way and the car fell, crushing his head. He was 48. By all reports, he died in excellent health and spirits, in happy relationship with those near and dear to him, on a crest of professional productivity and promise.

    He quit smoking some time ago and gained about 20 pounds, but he was still trim and firmly muscled; his hands were thick from handball. After a trip to California over Thanksgiving, and a weekend at the beach, he was bursting out of a dry period and eager to write a lot. His wife said: "Everything was go."

    He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Toni, and their three grown sons : Jeffrey, Marty, and Leonard.

    Sidney was born in Mt. Dennis, Toronto, Canada, on January 21, 1926. He was one of six children. At the University of Toronto, he earned a bachelor's de gree in 1947 and a master's in 1948. He earned his doctorate, in 1953, from the University of Buffalo.

    Sid was an academician, although he frequently identified himself as a psy chotherapist. He held positions as an instructor at the University of Buffalo from 1948-51, as an assistant professor at Emory University from 1951-56, as an assist ant professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama Medical School from 1956-57. Then, in a lean year when I met him, he was in private practice in Birmingham from 1957-58. In a surprise move, Sid accepted a position as associ ate research professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Florida, where he remained until 1963 when Bernie Webb persuaded him to join the Department of Psychology on the same campus. He was promoted to professor in 1964, the position he held at the time of his death.

    Sid was a superb teacher with a flair for personal exposition. He had an absolute talent for indwelling others; when someone impressed him, he could later imitate their posture, gait, dialect, and mannerisms. Often this mimicry was not only telling, it was devastatingly funny. Sid's way of being a therapist was entirely consonant with the rest of his life, thus, quite effortless. With his alert and fearless curiosity, he pressed his clients to find their depths. Occasionally he delighted in puncturing pomposity and bringing a client closer to his authentic self. With a refined sense of the absurd, Sid dared his clients to reinvent themselves, to be dif ferent, to decide anew and to act with conviction. In his own life, Sid never hesi tated to take a fresh look and start over. Professionally, he was a founder of many organizations, including the Association for Humanistic Psychology and The Center of Man.

    The process of adjustment captured his attention. While at Emory, pro foundly questioning his existence, he got into therapy and became intrigued with self-disclosure and its place in healthy personality. This theme pervaded his later research, his frequent presentations and his many publications. While casual in appearance, he was extremely energetic and well organized in his work habits. He breathed the nascent spirit of his time: his classes drew thousands, his speeches were often to SRO audiences, and his books-five in all-were highly successful in this country and abroad.

    Truly, his reputation was international. And he was roundly honored. He was a Fellow in the Divisions of Personality and Social Psychology, Consulting Psychology, Philosophical Psychology, and Psychotherapy of the American Psycho logical Association, a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology of the American Board of Professional Psychology, President of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, and on the editorial boards of more journals than I care to mention.

    On reading the above, Sid might have said: "Where were you in all of this?"

    My wife, Grace, called me at the home of Paul Siegel in Tuscaloosa, Ala bama, to tell me of Sid's death. In his wry way, Paul said: "He isn't dead. We'll get a questionnaire tomorrow asking us how we reacted to the news." I, also, found it hard to believe that a man so insistent upon life was now dead. There was a moment, after the shock, when I was hugely angry at Sid. Angry at that bit of arrogance, that all too typical irreverence and insouciance, that small but crucial miscalculation born out of overconfidence, which caused his demise. Shortly, I knew my hurt, my loss and my sorrow. Sometime that night, there came to mind the lines of Irma Lee Shepherd on the death of Henry Guze

Beat the drums slowly
for a mighty chief is dead.

    Sid and I had gotten together, late last summer, at his beach house for a couple of days of sitting on the porch and talking, eating/drinking and talking, walking the beach and talking, sailing and talking. He drove me to the airport in Jacksonville (in that same Triumph with the top down) and we shouted ourselves hoarse to make ourselves heard over the noise of the car and the road. I believe we said everything we had to say to each other. Through many such experiences, Sid helped me to know the autointoxication of experiencing the limits of my power as a person.

    Sid had been backpacking in the Andes of Peru. When I returned home, I sent him Pablo Neruda's epic poem The Heights of Maccu Piccu. This was returned to me by Sid's colleague, Bob Isaacson. I don't know whether Sid ever saw it.

     I loved Sid. It was easy to love him. He was highly heterosexual but he found male companionship less complicated. We wres tled in public; we kissed in public, equally unabashed. Our friendship was not singular. Sid had many close friends; his beach house teemed with them. In eulogy at funeral services on December 4 in Gainesville, Ted Landsman declared: "Sidney was my best, most constant friend. And wasn't he also your best friend? How could one man have so many?-because he lived and loved so fully in his years."

    Sidney lived as a man-too strong for delicate tastes--and he was buried as a Jew--a heritage he ignored and reclaimed. In all, a full and rich and vibrant person, one not long to be mourned. The fact that he is dead is not so important as the fact that he lived among us for awhile and shared himself so exuberantly and generously.

    Yes, that's all there is.