In Memoriam

I had no idea when I first met Sid Kess several years back, when we both served on the FAE Board of Directors, that I would have a lifelong friend. His brilliance felt tangible, and his loyalty and support became a constant in my life. I am blessed to have had a mentor like Sid who, despite his large, close-knit family, would keep in touch to follow up with my life and career.

One afternoon, Sid and I shared a cab to midtown after a FAE meeting. Walking down the streets of Manhattan with Sid Kess was like walking with a rock star. The anonymous streets of New York seemed to come alive with those passing by who knew and greeted Sid. I was further convinced of his celebrity status when we walked into the Harvard Club for lunch—I would tease Sid that he only went to Harvard because he couldn’t get into Fordham Law!–and everyone seemed to light up upon seeing Sid.

Sid had a love of others that was inspiring. He was an advocate for all people, regardless of color or race. He made the people in his orbit feel important and special. There is one remarkable story that Sid shared, which I will never forget.

Sid told me that while stationed in Europe during World War II, he stumbled upon a home with beautiful cherry trees out front. Over time, he became friends with the daughter of the homeowner, who served as an officer in the Nazi regime. Incredibly, Sid developed a friendship with this family, who opened their hearts and home to him. Sid shared how he joined them for dinner and was served cherry pie for dessert. Moreover, he remained lifelong friends with the daughter after she moved to the United States following the war. That Sid could move on from what he witnessed in Nazi Germany is a genuinely inspiring example of his love and forgiveness. Sid couldn’t harbor hatred towards anyone. This story was a gift that I received from Sid.

There were other stories involving Sid’s early career that he shared—about how he became known as the “Idea Man.” Simply put, he was a man with vision, insight, and ideas! He helped me immeasurably throughout my career, so much so that I included a dedication to him in a recent publication. I am grateful for having a friend like Sid Kess—my heart aches for the loss of this iconic mentor, professional, and teacher.

Tracey J. Niemotko, JD, CPA, CFE, is the chair of the department of accounting and director, master of science program in professional accountancy, in the school of management at Marist College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.