In Memoriam

The world is a little less today without Sid in it. He touched so many lives in a real and positive way that it is hard to comprehend. Sid was not an actor or a politician, but he was a celebrity to anyone who encountered him. His celebrity was not just because he knew so many people, although he did. He was a celebrity because of the unique magnetism and charm that drew people to him. Sid had a superpower, and that superpower was connecting and helping people.

I first encountered Sid about 15 years ago at a tax conference in Los Angeles where he was doing his usual thing—working the hallways, answering questions, offering useful tips, connecting people, and encouraging them to collaborate and help each other. Sid immediately took me under his wing and set me up with some ideas and introductions for speaking and writing. It is unusual to have a chance encounter with someone who gives guidance and helpful information on the spot; however, an encounter with Sid was rarely just a one-time meeting. Sid was so genuine and authentic; he really cared and would stay in touch with people he met in a hallway. Little did I realize at the time that Sid had found me and I now had a mentor for life.

A few years later, I encouraged Sid to join the Kostelanetz firm. Sid was enthusiastic about the chance to meet, teach, and mentor so many people at one time. Of course, he was excited to befriend everyone at the firm, not just the lawyers. Although Sid was a tax specialist, his passion to connect with and help others extended far beyond tax issues and included connecting with and helping people in general. I think tax law was just the venue in which Sid exercised his superpower to help others.

Sid will always be remembered for his contributions to the tax world, all the conferences he chaired and ran, all the articles and books he wrote, and his extraordinary ability to continue studying and learning the ever-changing tax law. But Sid was so much more than a tax lawyer and accountant extraordinaire. Sid was an example of how we can all be better people by going out of our way to connect with and help others. Perhaps one of Sid’s most lasting legacies is that he showed us the importance of taking the time to connect with and care for others—and of constantly paying our good fortune forward. When I stand in front of a mirror, my hope is that I can see a little bit of Sid reflected back at me. Sid was a scholar, a teacher, and a mentor, but more importantly, he was an example for us all of what is good in this world and how each of us can contribute to that good. We will miss him, but he lives on in our hearts.

Bryan C. Skarlatos, JD, LLM, is a partner with Kostelanetz LLP, New York, N.Y.