Goodbye to a Giant–Syd Lehman Passed Away Yesterday

Diane and Syd Lehman

Syd Lehman left SoHum yesterday.  We won’t see him in a grocery store or walking down our streets. He won’t be helping run a fundraiser or enveloping us in one of his huge hugs anymore. He passed away yesterday after a long bout with cancer. He’s been a part of us, a part of SoHum, for at least the fifty years that I remember.  As a child, my first memory of him was of how very very long his legs were. I thought he was giant. And, he was.  He had a giant’s heart.  He had a giant smile.  He had a giant’s booming laugh and he had a giant impact on this community.

For many years he was the giant heart of the Benbow Inn.  Later, his insurance business was more than a business, it had a giant influence on our community.  Kim Sallaway, local photographer and the one who snapped the photo above, says,

I met Syd Lehman more than 30 years ago. He was once my insurance agent. He refused to sell me a policy because I was getting too many tickets. My motorcycle was just too fast for the CHP to ignore. Sid told me I needed to straighten up and he was just the man to say it to me. I haven’t had a speeding ticket in a very long time. What I did have was a grandfather type friend who knew me, knew my community, and knew how to show by example, the right old school way to act as a man and a human being. I learned to appreciate his contributions, his wisdom, and his kindness.

Syd spent a tremendous amount of time volunteering in our community.  He worked tirelessly for years on various projects and fundraisers and all of those together made our towns better places but it is through his warmth and his laughter and his giant giant hugs that I will remember him most.  Bye, Syd.  I’ll miss you. You were a giant-hearted man.



  • Lovely post. Can you please disable the Advertisement feature on your blog. Really distracting.

    • I’m hosted by WordPress which provides free blog space. I don’t have any control over advertisements (or any income from them.) May I suggest Firefox as a browser and their adbloc app? I never see any ads on my posts and on Facebook.

  • I first met Syd when I was about 10, Diane was my 5th grade teacher. I too remember him as such a tall man, but so nice. In high school I worked at Lewis’ Frostie Spot with Blake. I remember many fun times at the Lehman house, with Syd and Diane coming home to a bunch of kids in the pool.
    I don’t live in SoHum anymore but I am so glad that one of the last times I was home I ran in to Syd on the street, hadn’t seen him in years but he knew me right away and was happy to see me. He got to meet my husband and my twin sons. I remember he said “The boy’s (Craig and Blake) are in the office, you should go say hi.” I always liked Syd and the whole Lehman family.
    I am so sorry for their loss, my thought and prayers are with them.
    Kymmarie (Sommers) Skinner

  • I’m hosted by WordPress which provides free blog space. I don’t have any control over advertisements (or any income from them.) May I suggest Firefox as a browser and their adbloc app? I never see any ads on my posts and on Facebook.

  • I haven’t seen Syd in years, but I do remember his big laugh, and his friendy tolerance for a house full of noisy teenagers.

  • I used to work for Syd (Cliff Collins) at Redwood Properties back in the late 70’s….So sorry to hear of his passing. My condolences to his family. Madeline Burke

  • i never knew him personally but he always gave me a big smile of recognition when he happened to see me around. -good vibes Syd, RIP …

  • When I read of Syd’s passing, my first thought was I wouldn’t be seeing him around town anymore and that meant no more of his giant hugs. I first met Syd and Diane when I went to work at Benbow Inn waaaay back in the summer of 1963. I waited tables most of the time but did a very short stint as a maid. It was during this time, Syd gave me a lesson on the correct way to make a bed. Who knew the sheet corners had to be tucked in just so? :-)) One other bit of wisdom he gave to me was at the Shelter Cove Grotto one New Year’s Eve. I believe he was tending bar. He told me he didn’t like New Year’s Eve because it was “amateur’s night out”. Since then, it has always been “amateur’s night” in my thinking. As Kym said, we have lost a giant in our community. My love and condolences go out to his family..

  • I am so sad to read this. He truly was a “pillar” in the community. A wonderful, genuine, honest soul. Always a laugh and smile and a hug and only the best advice. You could count on Syd.

  • I first met Syd in 1964. He was the local volunteer emergency coordinator during the ’64 flood, and I was a college kid stuck in Garberville at my parent’s home trying to figure a way back to HSU with bridges washing out all around us. Syd volunteered me to monitor the bridge over the South Fork on Old Briceland Road on Christmas Eve, one of the few still standing. Who could say no to Syd? I finally escaped to the north through the snow over Alderpoint Road through Bridgeville, but the impression of Syd organizing the recovery effort in the midst of that chaos has stuck with me to this day. I have always valued his friendship, and Joan and I send our sincerest sympathy to Diane, Craig, Blake and rest of his family.
    Any word on a memorial?

  • He is the best, just the best. As I told him it was an honor to work with him on the Chamber board and in Rotary for 2 decades. We all have so many stories about how both he and Diane have helped so many over the years. Great people. FUN people. Very creative and great sports. I really miss him.

  • Syd was such a light in so many lives. He was one of my favorite men and looking at all the comments, he was the same to many, many others. As Bunny said, the very best. What a huge hole he leaves!

  • I particularly remember Syd for his tireless work for the community. I remember especially how hard he fought to keep Benbow Lake open after others had long given up. He will be missed.

  • Pingback: Syd Lehman moved on yesterday « Sohum Parlance II

  • Very nice writeup. His hugs are what I remember most. That, and his bright smile, which could be seen from a block away, and just kept coming. I, too, miss him already.

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