Lester Bolstein Dies

Posted: July 5, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Lester Bolstein, who was maintenance supervisor at Mason from 1977 until he retired in 1984, died on June 20 at the age of 90.

He lived in Staten Island, N.Y., for most of his life. He was an auto mechanic and owned and operated several service stations. At Mason, he first worked as a carpenter before becoming maintenance supervisor in the Physical Plant.

“[He] was a brilliant mechanic and could fix virtually anything, from watches to cars and trucks,” says his son, Richard Bolstein, an associate professor in the Department of Applied and Engineering Statistics, who will himself retire in August after 33 years at Mason. “He learned carpentry on the job at Mason and quickly became an expert. He often did extra things for faculty and staff, such as making plant stands and special bookcases.

“In the seven years he was here, he knew more people than I did. For years after he retired, whenever I met [former] President [George] or Mrs. Johnson, the first thing they would say to me was, ‘How is your father?’”

As maintenance supervisor, Bolstein was in charge of a small crew that maintained lighting and plumbing, among other things, on all campus buildings. Many of his crew members were young men just out of high school.

“My father made it his mission to teach these men to take pride in their work. In particular, the late Kenny Barbour was a favorite,” says Richard Bolstein. “Among his final papers, I found his annual evaluations of the crew members. Many of them, including Kenny, showed marked improvement each year.”

Although suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for the past five years, Bolstein was excited that Mason’s basketball team made it to the Final Four this year, and he saw the last two games, his son reports.

In addition to his son, Bolstein is survived by his wife, Helen, of 69 years; a daughter, Leslie; three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Memorials may be sent to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of Staten Island, 400 Brielle Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314.

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