Leon Remembered by Eve Winer

05Oct09

Leon lived to be 80 years old which we were not sure would happen.

His health was quite precarious at times and he was at risk of dying at least 2 other times in his life.

Leon was born in Roumania in 1929 to Russian parents, Sima and Baruch.  He was a rather sickly child and was home schooled to about the age of eight.  In Bucharest he attended a Greek Orthodox school where he was discriminated against being a Jewish child.

In 1939 the family made plans to emigrate to the US.  But plans had to be aborted because Leon had a ruptured appendix.  They finally made the journey in 1940 to New York City.  They lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Baruch set up a soap factory in Long Island City. Leon worked there on occasion.

He was the only student in Eastern District High School  to win a NYS scholarship. It was expected that Leon would work in the soap factory when he finished college at Long Island University. Therefore he did not take his education very seriously.

We met on December 10, 1950 on a blind date.  He was drafted in March 1951 and discharged in 1953. By then the soap factory had been sold and Leon had no job.  He went back to school studying chemistry and in the meantime we got married  Dec. 25, 1953.

We lived in Flatbush. David was born on May 2nd 55. And Leon was working as a chemist in NJ. We moved to Elizabeth to be near his work. At the same time Leon attended Rutgers University and attained an MBA. Now he could stop being a chemist which he felt was a dead end profession.  He took a job at National Starch in Manhattan and we moved back to NYC, Jackson Heights.

Steven was born on June 18, 1958 and died August 20th the same year. He had been born with severe congenital defects.

Our robust Peter was born Dec. 27, 1958.

Leon started a Ph.D. program at Columbia University School of Business. He had to go full time and we managed with the help of Rudy, my father. He completed the degree in 1963. And doors opened. First at Mobile Oil and then at IBM.

Then Hymie Stutts, one memorable evening in our living room suggested that Leon go in college teaching.  He started part-time at Baruch and spent the rest of his teaching career at Pace University, 25 + years.

He was a very unique teacher.  He preferred not to lecture but instead have the students do group work and projects.

He was very active in the professional association, WACRA.  We attended quite a few summer conferences in various cities including Warsaw, Budapest and Marseille.  We became friends with Heather and Jim Erskine.  All these trips culminated in Switzerland. We went to the Alps a total of 23 consecutive years. The last trip was in the summer of 2008.

In Switzerland we befriended the Deckers from Albuquerque and often were able to coordinate our trips with them.

He had many publications but three stand out.

1. His dissertation was published in the Journal of Marketing and is quoted in Marketing texts even today.

2. He wrote an article for Smart Money analyzing the expense rations of the TIAA-CREF fund vs. Fidelity and Vanguard and found the former to be greater than the latter.  The University then included The Fidelity and Vanguard funds as options for retirement funds.

3. He wrote a book, “Five Skills” for the MBA and BBA and everyone else who wants a competitive advantage. It is available on line and still gets worldwide hits today.

Leon had a perforated ulcer 10/02 and nearly died. But recovered after 5 plus months and we did not miss Switzerland that summer.

He retired that year and soon after  had by-pass surgery.  And for many years he had Polycythemia Vera which was non symptomatic until the last few years.  It was this blood disorder which caused his system to deteriorate.

Leon was very intelligent and well read. A good financial manager of his and my assets.

He greatly encouraged my independence.  After he finished his Ph.D. he said to me “Now it’s your turn” and helped me to further my education.  He insisted that we each have our own assets. At first I resented this but realized the merits of the arrangement when I no longer had to get his permission to spend  money.

He would say “I know she loves me because I don’t support her”.

Leon worked hard at being self sufficient even in his last days and months. In no way did he want to be burden to anyone. However he did let me actively care for him when he so desperately needed it during his illnesses and at the end of his life. It was during those times that we became closer and he let his guard down.

I’ll sure miss him. The void is already becoming apparent.

Bye Leon, I love you.



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