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Leonard GREENSTEIN


1937 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
GREENSTEIN, Leonard Leonard Greenstein died peacefully at home on July 8, 2016, surrounded by his loving family. He adored telling stories. This one is his. He was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 2, 1937, the eldest child of Oscar and Jean Greenstein. Lenny it was always "Lenny" grew up in Norfolk, Virginia and attended Robert E. Lee Elementary School. As a teenager, he often helped out washing glasses at his father's bar, an experience which taught him the value of hard work, sharpened his sense of humor, and nourished his uncanny ability to connect with all sorts of people skills which would serve him well throughout his long, rich life. Upon graduating from Maury High School in 1955, Lenny applied to the Georgia Institute of Technology, surprising his classmates, most of whom planned to attend college in-state. But Lenny and a friend had a plan to enroll in one of the most prestigious engineering schools in the country a plan which failed to pan out when Lenny was accepted to Tech and the friend wasn't. Undeterred, and with a thirst for education and new experiences, Lenny opted to boldly set out on his own. It wouldn't be the last time. Once at Georgia Tech, Lenny pledged the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and set an ambitious slate of classes, contemplating an engineering major and perhaps a career as an architect. But during sophomore year, his father was abruptly taken ill, forcing Lenny to take a leave of absence and return to Norfolk to manage the bar while Oscar recuperated. Barely out of his teens and shouldering immense responsibility, Lenny soon found himself getting a practical business education which complemented what he'd been learning at Tech. So when Oscar recovered and Lenny returned to college, he switched his major to Industrial Management, sensing his career path might bend toward the world of business. Navy ROTC classes led to a midshipman cruise on the carrier U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard, and after graduating in 1959, Lenny was promptly commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. He served two years as Supply Officer on the destroyer U.S.S. Turner, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade, his sojourn culminating with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The Turner was one of the lead ships in the naval blockade during that tense confrontation, and Lenny himself was responsible in a tale the great storyteller inexplicably withheld till much later in life for emptying out the U.S. bank at Guantanamo, toting $7.5 million in cash back to the ship in a red Radio Flyer wagon he found in the cargo hold. Then, when the Turner docked in Florida, Lenny dutifully delivered the cash to the Federal Reserve in the trunk of his four-door Plymouth. Discharged from the Navy and returning to Atlanta, Lenny soon began dating Linda Goldberg, the younger sister of a former fraternity brother. And after a whirlwind courtship he asked her to marry him on their very first date the two wed in February 1963. They spent the next few years starting a family while Lenny worked as a salesman and field rep for Oxford Chemical Corporation, a company co-owned by Linda's stepfather, but once again Lenny felt the urge to strike out on his own. In 1966, moving what had become a family of four to New York City, Lenny enrolled in the stockbroker training program at DuPont Glore Forgan & Co., later part of E.F. Hutton. He then set up shop first in Washington D.C., then back home in Atlanta, and with the addition of twin boys the Greenstein family had grown to six. Fortunately, Lenny's clientele was also growing, and once the family put down roots in the nascent suburb of Sandy Springs in the spring of 1972, Lenny began to enjoy the fruits of his success. He and Linda built a beautiful home in the River North community, and were among the first families to join Temple Sinai, where for the next 40 years Lenny taught Sunday school, served on the board, and his knowledge of Judaism the stuff of local legend occasionally subbed for the rabbi on Friday nights. Linda died in 1982, and Lenny spent the next few years balancing work and family as the sole parent to four children. Six years later, thanks to a fortuitous fix-up by a rabbi's wife, he met Barbara Podowitz, and this time Lenny waited till the third date to ask the woman he'd fallen madly in love with to marry him. Lenny and Barbara wed in the spring of 1989, and Lenny eagerly embraced his role as stepfather to Barbara's two sons. Perhaps this newfound happiness also triggered a reevaluation of his professional life, for in 1991 Lenny decided to leave the brokerage business. He and Barbara purchased TV Metro Atlanta magazine, and for the next 14 years Lenny served as editor, publisher and salesman, Barbara balancing work on the magazine with her ongoing career as a paralegal. In 2004, with the children grown and retirement beckoning, Lenny sold TV Metro Atlanta and devoted the rest of his life to charitable work. He continued volunteering at the Zaban Night Shelter. He manned the welcome desk at Northside Hospital. He worked tirelessly for Second Helpings, which arranges deliveries of surplus food from supermarkets and restaurants to homeless shelters throughout Atlanta. And he continued to serve on the board of Temple Sinai, to which he maintained a connection even after he and Barbara joined The Temple in 2011. Most recently, Lenny drew on his prodigious gifts as a storyteller to serve institutions he cared about. He worked as a docent at The Temple. And no one who attended one of his tours at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum is likely to forget his passionate retelling of Jewish history, even if they may leave believing the Jews invented Coca-Cola. Lenny will be remembered as the epitome of selflessness, a man whose legacy is marked by the good works he did and the countless lives he touched. A devoted father and grandfather. A peerless raconteur. Purveyor of Little Known Facts. And the cheapest laugh in Metropolitan Atlanta. He is preceded in death by his sister, Sheila; and by Barbara's mother, Valerie Delman. As for the rest of us, to say "he is survived by" is far too weak a phrase. Leonard Greenstein is lionized and celebrated by: his beloved and devoted wife, Barbara Greenstein; son, Jeff Greenstein (Lisa Ritter); daughter, Jill Greenstein (Andy Cohen); son, Steven Greenstein (Shana Ginsberg); son, Keith Greenstein (Helen); son, Matthew Podowitz; son, Seth Podowitz (Clarissa Matalone); grandchildren: Henry Greenstein, Jordan Cohen, Luna and Sol Ginsberg, Alex Greenstein, and Max Podowitz; a numberless extended family; and, chances are, you. Sign online guestbook at www.edressler.com. Funeral services will be held 1:00 PM Sunday, July 10, 2016 at The Temple, 1589 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, with Rabbi Peter Berg officiating; interment will follow at Arlington Memorial Park in Sandy Springs. In lieu of flowers, please contribute to The Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, www.thebreman.org; Second Helpings, www.secondhelpingsatlanta.org; or Weinstein Hospice, www.weinsteinhospice.com. Arrangements by Dressler's Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on July 9, 2016
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