Samuel B Feitelberg

Shelburne, VT – Samuel B Feitelberg, 93, of Shelburne, VT passed away on the night of March 16, 2023 at The McClure-Miller Respite House. The son of Dr. Abraham and Rose Feitelberg, Sam was born in the Bronx, New York in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. His life was shaped by his love for his family and his belief that every human being has the right to strive towards their highest creative potential.

In 1952 Sam earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Columbia University, a Certificate of Physical Therapy from Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1953 and a Masters of Arts from Columbia University Teachers College in 1954.  Sam holds a Certificate of Labor Administration from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business (1980) and an honorary Doctorate of Science degree from Utica College (2015).

From 1954 to 1956, Sam served in the U.S. Army Medical Specialist Corps assigned to Walter Reed Army Hospital as a staff physical therapist.  It was there he was inspired to help move physical therapy into its own professional realm. Discharged in the midst of the polio epidemic, he returned to The Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center as its Chief Pediatric Physical Therapist. He began his academic career in 1959 as an instructor in the Physical Therapy Program at Columbia University. In 1965-1970 he was chairman of Physical Therapy at Downstate Medical Center, SUNY Brooklyn. He then went on to establish and direct two schools of Physical Therapy: The University of Vermont in Burlington (1969-1996) and at the School of Science, Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York (1997-2011).  He was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus at the University of Vermont (1996) and Clarkson University (2011).

Sam was an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association since 1953, serving as president of the Section for Education (1986-89); a member of the Nominating Committee (1986-89); and a member of the Board of Directors (1990-93).  In 1997 he was named as a Catherine Worthingham Fellow by the APTA. He is also the recipient of the Lucy Blair Service Award in 1983, the Vermont Chapter Distinguished Service Award in 1990 and 1997, and the Diversity 2000 Award in 1996.  Sam dedicated himself to strengthening cultural equity, respect, and understanding in his work and personal life.  He worked tirelessly to suffuse diversity ethics and cultural proficiency as part of campus life, physical therapy education, and patient services as essential to developing a responsive and compassionate society.  He created opportunities for young people from marginalized communities to attend schools of physical therapy. His work lives on in the Samuel B. Feitelberg Endowed Scholarship established by Clarkson University to benefit a physical therapy student who share his commitment for service and advocacy for underserved or culturally diverse populations.

Sam’s vision of physical therapy included its application in national and global pursuits. He worked with NASA at the Langley Space Center in Virginia developing programs to assist astronauts performing tasks in a weightless environment.  That research became incorporated into therapy for people with Parkinson’s Disease.

Sam delighted in bringing teams of people together.  He spoke humbly of how much he learned from his patients.  He revered his faculty and found tremendous promise for the future in his students.  His wisdom came from what others taught him through their experiences together.

Some of Sam’s proudest achievements came later in life when in conjunction with Rotary’s Hands To Honduras he helped to establish the Oscar Edgardo Pineda Castro Rehabilitation Center for children in Tela, Honduras. For over 16 years Sam was inspired and forever grateful to the wonderful staff and patients in Tela and to all those that traveled and supported the center and its mission.  In 2007 he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Shelburne-Charlotte-Hinesburg Rotary Club. Sam was a devoted Rotarian and treasured the many friendships he made within his Chapter.

Sam also played a pivotal role in the construction of the Shelburne Veterans’ Monument.  He was honored to have participated in this project and loved the camaraderie of his fellow veterans. He treasured Saturday morning fundraising for the Monument under the Veterans’ pop-up tent at the Shelburne Farmers Market. He was extremely grateful to the dedicated committee that helped make the project come to life, and to the town of Shelburne and everyone who contributed to the project. Being a Veteran truly touched his heart.  

Sam enjoyed restoring old boats, cars, houses, and his extraordinary collection of Lionel trains.  A day well spent was sitting by the lake with family and friends at the family’s summer cabin on Lake Champlain.

Sam was fortunate to spend almost 70 years with the love of his life, his wife Gail and their 4 children, Cher, Debbie (Poulin) and son-in-law Tony, Lisa (Davison) and son-in-law Mark and son Michael and daughter-in-law Dana.  Sam’s grandchildren, Kyle Coulam, Adam, Jordan and Sophie Davison, Daniel Feitelberg, along with Lena Biggs, Shane and Shannon Poulin were an endless source of pride for all they have accomplished and the wonderful people they have become. The family will forever miss his wonderful stories, lessons, sense of humor and unconditional love.

Visiting hours for Sam will be held on Saturday, March 25, 2023 from 4:00-6:00pm at Ready Funeral Service, South Chapel, 261 Shelburne Rd, Burlington, VT.

A celebration of Sam’s life will take place later this spring.

We would like to thank the University of Vermont Medical Center and the McClure Miller Respite House for their love, respect, dignity, and excellent medical care.

In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Sam with a donation to:

Samuel B. Feitelberg Physical Therapy Endowment Scholarship

Clarkson University

8 Clarkson Ave.

Potsdam, New York 13699

The Shelburne Veterans Monument Fund

P.O. Box 88

Shelburne, Vermont 05482

Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Ready Funeral & Cremation Service.  To send an online condolence to the family please visit

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