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Arnold Bernard Preiser


1940 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Arnold Bernard Preiser Obituary
November 2, 1940 - November 1, 2017 Arnold Bernard Preiser, an engineer and the proprietor of ABP Services in Long Beach, has died at age 76, a day before his 77th birthday. Arnold was born in Odessa, the second son of a piano teacher and a dermatologist. By the time Arnold turned one, he survived a horse-drawn carriage escape from the descending German and Romanian armies, landing him in the remote Ural mountains. At two, he lost his father in the Battle of Sevastopol; at 13, his mother died of ovarian cancer, leaving him and his brother orphans. Resources were limited, which he took as a challenge. From an early age, he was fascinated by how things worked - he spent his free time scouting for transistor radio parts at the swap meet, or tolchok, in Russia to build his own radiolo, a combination radio and record player. He preferred making things to buying them and delighted in figuring out how things worked. After completing school - first college, then Moscow Institute of Energy for his PhD, he worked as an engineer in Moscow. When he was fired in the early 1970s, for so-called unpatriotic acts, he packed up his wife and toddler to immigrate to America, via Italy. After landing in Los Angeles, he took English and career counseling classes at Temple Young Israel and answered an engineering ad for Superior Fireplace Company. "What do you know about fireplaces?" was the first interview question. "Everything," he answered confidently. Never mind that he hadn't yet learned the word "fireplace." He took pride in his work, which expanded upon his childhood obsession of taking things apart, tinkering, and building anew. He moved from fireplaces to the aerospace and nuclear industries before going out on his own with ABP Services, a one-man show that tackled everything from full-scale remodels to plumbing; he was once commissioned to build floor-to-ceiling cages for a warehouse filled with 120 cats. Again with the tinkering, the exploring, the figuring out how things worked. He did it at home too - constantly experimenting with his Long Beach home. He pushed back walls, built poles, tiled floors, and sewed beautifully, too. He gave all three of his daughters terrible haircuts by bribing them with Thrifty's ice cream and responded to tears over lost Barbie shoes by glueing them to Barbie feet. He took all three girls to Minnie Gant Elementary for a combined 20 years and was honored on stage when the youngest graduated. He desperately wanted one of his daughters to become a doctor; instead he watched one graduate from Harvard Business School, another dance on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House, and carefully clipped articles by the youngest from every Los Angeles Times he came across, even public copies. Sorry. He thrilled in saving money as a hobby and an art form, but when he became a grandfather he loosened the purse strings; unlimited Farmer's Market tamales for Josh; a trampoline for Zoey; a toddler-size mini Cooper for Nate Cooper. He loved thrift stores, for gathering things, shelves to store things, and vans (the better to shuttle things from A to B). He thrilled in hearing what a person might be in need of - socks, corn flakes, dog kennels, and might just show up at your house, with his van, and what you never exactly asked for. He hated restaurants, though he loved free mints, Souplantation coupons, and Indian food as long as it was served buffet-style. He devoured history books, classical music, sugar cubes, and potatoes - eight, yes eight, of the latter each morning. He was always happy to take a friend or family member to the airport, but honestly, wished everyone else would stop going to the airport because have you seen how crowded that damn airport was? Where is everybody going? In the past five years he took classes at Cal State Long Beach's senior university and started to write hilarious and heart wrenching stories from his life, always copyedited by his wife, Sonia. He wound up falling in love with the stories he read by his classmates and would bring their print-outs home to Sonia, with whom he loved to watch Sunday morning talk shows, walk on the beach, and dance like teenagers at weddings. He wasn't sick a day in his life, and only spent a few hours in the Emergency Room when he accidently hammered a nail right through a board and into his knee. On September 11, 2017, he was diagnosed with gastric cancer - a disease he happily and repeatedly garnished with his favorite four-letter word. He hated the cancer more than red light cameras (government ploy), the sneaky weekly-uptick of Home Depot prices (did you think he wouldn't notice?), and theme park food prices (why not just drink a warm soda in the car?). He fought that cancer while building shelves and playing basketball, from the ER and the hospital hallways he raced his grandson down, and finally from his oldest daughter's Los Angeles guest room that he likened to a four-star hotel. He was surrounded by his brother, his wife, his kids and their spouses, and grandkids, but encouraged everyone to drive home before dark because he worried. He is survived by his wife Sonia Preiser as well as his first wife and mother of his two older daughters, Tanya Preiser; his brother and sister-in-law Leonid and Helen Preiser, and daughters Natalya Hudis (Mark), Katya Preiser, and Amy Preiser Maoz (Omry); grandchildren Josh and Zoey Hudis and Nate Maoz, as well as niece, Lara Preiser-Houy (Tom), and many loving cousins. Services will be held at Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills on Sunday the 5th at 2pm.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 4, 2017
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