Henry Donald Spielman

NO. 17616  •  

Died 11 September 1975 in New York, New York, aged 47 years
Interment: Knollwood Cemetery, New York, New York

When HANK SPIELMAN returned to West Point for his 25th Reunion in May of 1975, he must have known that he was saying fare­well to his classmates in the Class of 1950. Even then, the cruel malignancy was starting to take its toll on that charismatic person­ality that became so personally involved with West Point.

On the 11th of September of 1975, Henry David Spielman was laid to rest in Knoll­wood Cemetery in his beloved New York City. The sole son of David and Sadye Spielman, he was survived by his mother and sister Audrey, of Falls Church, Virginia.

Hank's life was a paradox. As a cadet, a soldier, and as a businessman, he had to learn to cope with adversity. But he always developed the knack to succeed. He liked to boast that he was first man in his class in French, the last man in Military Topography and Graphics; that he was an All-State basket­ball player and yet had difficulty with the plebe obstacle course. Although he suffered through an unbelievably hard plebe year, he developed an affection and camaraderie for his company mates that was to be his hallmark for twenty-five years.

His home in New York became a hospitality suite to any cadet or graduate. His mother affectionately regaled in her role of "cadet hostess of Manhattan." He served the Army well for three  years after graduation. When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Hank was transferred from Fort Custer, Michigan, to an anti-aircraft artillery battalion in Germany. Having "missed  the war”, family business interests enticed him out of the Army. In 1957 he assumed the presidency of Spielman Chevrolet and Transportation Incorporated, businesses he expanded and consolidated until his untimely death.

Few soldiers or graduates have ever nurtured a deeper love of West Point. Nothing gave him more pride or pleasure than to escort a friend around his alma mater, or to host a young cadet in his New York apartment, or to sponsor an aspiring candidate in his endeavor to become a cadet. His apartment was tastefully decorated with the pic­tures and memorabilia of his cadet days. A visitor might even perceive that Hank Spielman should have never left the Army, let alone West Point.

He gave of his money, time, and talent to many charitable  organizations. But in his characteristic style, he had to play a leading role in his favorite, the  organization to build a new Jewish Chapel at West Point.

Hank ran his automobile business with the same philosophy that he practiced personally. The following principles were extracted from the organization pamphlet which Hank used to govern the conduct of his employees in their dealings with customers.

1. Smile - A smile is a trademark of a friendly person. Everyone likes to do business with a friendly person.

2. Do Small Favors - Big favors take time and are not expected. It is the little acts of courtesy which mean so much to all of us.

3. Know What You Are Talking About. Customers depend upon you for advice. If you don't know the correct answer, don't try to cover up. Admit you don't know and call someone who does. Thus, you will win the respect and confidence of those you serve.

4. Keep Promises – Confidence is the foundation  on which business and friendship are built. Promises should  not be made unless they can be kept. Broken promises  undermine confidence.

5. Be Tactful - Tact is the consideration for the feelings of others. Try to understand the personality of each. Handle customers with care. Embarrass no one. Make it easy for people to deal with you.

6. Say Thank You - No two words create more good will or bring people back more often than a friendly, courteous, thank you.

Perhaps Hank copied these principles out of some field manual at the Command and General Staff College. In any case, it re­flected his philosophy of life, be it in busi­ness, the Army, or his own relationships with his friends.