David W. Feeney

David W. Feeney

David Wesley Feeney, age 84, a long-time resident of Rumson, New Jersey, passed away peacefully on April 9, 2023 (Easter Sunday) surrounded by family. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 1, 1938. He, his mother Katherine Barr, and his two brothers Gerry and Bill Feeney moved to Belmar, New Jersey when he was in grammar school. Dave was an exceptional high school student, athlete, and football player. He attended Asbury Park High School where he was a leading member of a state-champion football team and named First Team All-American. But more importantly, this is where he met, the cute cheerleader and the love of his life, Elizabeth “Betsy” Shamel.

After graduating from high school, Dave was recruited by many top college football programs. He committed to playing football for Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York because it was located within 20 miles of Elmira College – the school where his high school sweetheart and future wife, Betsy, planned to attend college. Dave was an offensive guard, linebacker, and three-year varsity letterman in football (1957-58-59)at Cornell University. He was selected as an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press in his final season while playing offensive guard. Additionally, Dave was chosen as a Coaches All-Ivy first-team pick. The American Peoples Encyclopedia named him to its All-Ivy Scholastic first team in 1958. Dave was Captain of the Cornell Football Team and was awarded the Pop Warner Award as the team’s Most Valuable Player. Although Sports Illustrated featured him as “one to watch,” he believed his greatest accomplishment was marrying Betsy in the summer between his junior and his senior years at Cornell. Dave earned his bachelor’s degree at Cornell University in 1960. Prior to his college graduation, Dave and Betsy started what was to become a large and growing family with the birth of their first child – a daughter – Shawn Feeney. 

Dave attended law school from 1960-1963 and graduated with distinction (first in his class) from Cornell Law School with an LL.B. Before graduating from law school Dave and Betsy added to their family with the birth of their second daughter – Shari Feeney. 

Upon graduating from law school Dave was immediately hired by Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, an established Wall Street law firm that has now been in existence for over 230 years. However, before embarking on a long and successful legal career Dave spent the next two years (1963-1965) proudly fulfilling his duty to ROTC and his country by serving as a Military Police Officer (MP) in the Army. Dave was very proud of his military service and, among other things, provided security services and an escort for United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy during his visit to the Brooklyn Dockyards. For his service as an MP assigned to the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Dave received multiple commendations of excellence. Before receiving his honorable discharge from the Army, Dave and Betsy added to their family with the birth of their first son – David W. Feeney II. 

In 1971 Dave became a partner at Cadwalader and was Chairman of the Tax Department for many years. But before making partners Betsy and Dave added to their family with the arrival of their fourth child – another boy – with the birth of Darryl Feeney. As a Cadwalader partner Dave represented various clients including foreign countries and large corporations seeking tax advice and counseling in complicated international and national transactions.Tax controversies, including audits, appeals, and litigation with significant tax implications, were a major part of his law practice.

Dave rose to become a senior partner and head of the tax department at Cadwalader because of his brilliant mind, work ethic, tenacity, integrity, and honesty. Although he was never one to mention it, he had a perfect memory and recalled facts and events from far in the past. Dave’s client list included Fortune 500 CEOs as well as leaders around the world (including an Arabian Prince), who respected this brilliant man and the ferocity with which he battled to protect their rights and ensure that legal determinations made by the courts and administrative agencies of the United States were just and fair. 

Though his academic, athletic, and professional accomplishments were many, his most incredible pride and joy came from being Betsy’s husband, dad, grandad, and great-grandad. He loved his family beyond measure and protected and supported those he loved with strength, compassion,, and wisdom.

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Feeney; his four children, Shawn Takacs, Shari Feeney, David Feeney II, and Darryl Feeney, wife Karen Feeney; his grandchildren, Ashley Levy, husband Michael Levy, Kristia Talcott, husband Tyler Talcott, Kara Scott husband Levi Scott, David Feeney III, Stephen Feeney; and great-grandchildren, Kiera, Leah, Silas, and Sawyer Scott, Charlotte, and Oliver Levy, and Austin Talcott.  

Dave’s first passion was his family, his second was practicing Law. Other interests included fishing, smoking cigars, playing darts, going to Monmouth Park, watching a good New York Yankees game and spending time laughing with the other members of the infamous “Pocono Dopes.” He’s with them now. Have fun guys!

A private Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please donate to St. Judes Childrens Research Hospital. Thompson Memorial Home of Red Bank, NJ has been entrusted with the arrangements.




Bruce S. Thompson, Owner & Manager, NJ LIC #3740