Lester Weil Wainer, age 92, passed away on May 3, 2017 in his birthplace and hometown New Orleans, Louisiana. He was born to Harry Elias and Hannah Lichenstein Wainer. He attended Cohen Elementary, Fortier High, and Tulane University.
He grew up bouncing between the loving homes of his brothers and sisters: Uri, Rody, Daisy, Manny, Buzzy, and Sarah. And he shared lasting relationships with all of them. When he told stories of his childhood, he often spoke of the interesting people he’d met along the way, and the local changes due to modernization (including the iceman’s deliveries by cart and donkey, the family’s first television which he and his brothers assembled on the sidewalk, and the 2 nickels his dad gave him to go to the movie and buy popcorn).
His laidback personality paired with the warm, nurturing, cadence of New Orleans shaped him into the Lester we all adored. During World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 and was sent off by his entire family at the train station. He served his tour of duty in the South Pacific as a radar man aboard the U.S.S. CLAY APA39. During that time, he "enjoyed" freeze dried meals, and he was forced to sleep in one position all night with his feet slung over the end of his bunk.
After serving his country, Lester joined his family in many successful business ventures. Some of their endeavors included: fur trading, mortgage, real estate, long distance phone services, and of course the very popular, “upside down” pickle business.
In 1956, after a 6-week courtship, he married his true love, Beverly Smith, of Atlanta Georgia. They were married just over 60 years and lovingly raised three kids: Kim Wainer Kline of Dallas, Bruce Wainer of New Orleans and Teri Wainer Tanenbaum of New Orleans. As they grew up, they made many memories, and some of his fondest were grabbing sno-balls on a summer night, crabbing on Lake Pontchartrain, and playing games in the streets with cousins and the neighborhood kids. All of this, reminiscent of his own childhood.
As his kids grew older, he would often share advice on how to best navigate New Orleans, providing details such as who lived where, what shaped the landscape, and how to eat right (and where). In doing so, he always put a positive spin on the situation. Lester believed that looking someone in the eye and listening to them would create everlasting connections and relationships. He made friends easily….often over coffee or food at his neighborhood joints. And these friends often became a fixture in his life.
He always lived sharing his whole heart, giving love unconditionally. This rubbed off on everyone he encountered. He also had an extremely generous spirit, believing in “Tzedakah”. He often quipped, ”If you are more fortunate than others, build a longer table to include more people." He worked with many organizations, served on many boards and helped fundraise for numerous Jewish and local causes.
During his life, Lester enjoyed many hobbies, including golf, tennis, poker, bridge, maj, dancing, badminton, fishing, sailing, football, and of course eating (fried oysters!). He also loved travelling and did so extensively. Later in life he enjoyed Camden, Maine, which became his second home.
However, his favorite thing to do in the whole world was spend time with his family and dear friends. He especially adored being with his grandchildren (Zac Tanenbaum, Blair Tanenbaum, Corbin Tanenbaum, Ali Tanenbaum, Courtney and Aaron Abramovitz, Josh and Marcelle Wainer), his son-in-law Rian and his daughter-in-law Ellie.
Lester felt blessed to be part of the Wainer family and to have so much happiness and love. He often spoke of his contentment at all that his life had brought him. Our hearts remain full with his love, his smile, and his twinkling eyes. He is survived by a community that loved him and are better off for knowing him. A private graveside service was held in his honor. The family will welcome visitors at 301 Rue St. Peter, Metairie at the following times: Friday May 5th from 3pm to 6pm, Saturday May 6th from 6:30pm to 9pm, and Sunday May 7th from 1pm to 4pm. In lieu of flowers, contributions are welcome to the World War II Museum of New Orleans, Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana or Gates of Prayer Synagogue..
Condolences may be expressed online at www.tharpsontheimerfh.com. THARP-SONTHEIMER-THARP of Metairie is in charge of arrangements.