N. Leonard MorgensternNathan Leonard (Len) Morgenstern, prominent physician, educator, East Bay Area civic leader, computer programming enthusiast, and dedicated father and grandfather, died Thursday following head trauma from a fall. He was 91 and a longtime resident of Moraga, Rossmoor and most recently, the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living in Danville.
Morgenstern was born in Omaha, Neb., during a late-season blizzard. Like a scene from a silent movie melodrama, his father and uncle had to dig away snow from sidewalks and streets to get his mother Fannie to the hospital for the delivery. His father Isaac worked as a teacher but suffered from tuberculosis, which sometimes kept him away from the family. A brilliant student, Len was advanced several grades and later joined accelerated education programs with the Army Specialized Training Program towards college and medical school graduation during World War II. He served his military service after the war in various Army bases around the U.S.
While working in Salt Lake City in the late 1940s, Len met his future wife, Mary Lou Evans, who was a bacteriologist there. The pair were married in Chicago, where Len served his pathology residency. Following a stint in Los Angeles, the couple moved to Oakland, where Len took a position at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center. He was to work there for 35 years, rising to the position of Chief of Pathology. He published widely on cancer, and taught as an adjunct professor of neuropathology at the University of California San Francisco.
In 1955, the family moved to Moraga and put down roots in the community. With children David, Jamie and Ann, the family grew and became very involved with Temple Isaiah of Lafayette, both socially and in leadership. They were active on committees; Len serving as president. After retirement, he was editor of the synagogue bulletin.
Len believed very strongly in service to the community and education. In the 1960s, he served on the board of the Moraga School District; in 1962, he was elected clerk and later served for years as President. In addition, Len was a member of groups such as Toastmasters International and various computer support clubs. He also donated his summer vacation time as a doctor at the URJ camp in Saratoga.
Len's major "hobby" was computing; however, his programming was of a professional level. In the 1960s, he arranged to run programs on mainframes near the hospital (in the FORTRAN punchcard and paper tape days). He purchased an early "home-brew" CPM computer in the 1970s and various DOS machines followed. When he retired, his gift from the hospital was a Macintosh computer. With retirement, Len became very active in the International FORTH Interest Group (FIG) of the FORTH computer language, helping to organize meetings and conferences. He traveled around the country presenting papers and was widely published in FORTH Dimensions and other programming journals. In his last decade, Len decided to try his hand in fiction and joined a creative writing club. He loved music and often went to concerts.
Len is mourned by sons David (Inara) and Jamie (Linda), and daughter Ann (Jeff), and his grandchildren Ariela, Dara and Rebecca. He is survived by his sister Charlotte Katz. May his memory be for a blessing.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, June 2 at 10:30 am at Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Road , Lafayette, Calif. A Meal of Consolation will follow at the synagogue. Instead of flowers, the family requests donations to Temple Isaiah and to the URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from May 30 to Jun. 2, 2014.