Benjamin Nils Lenz was born in Hell’s Kitchen on the summer solstice, June 21, 1927 to Anna Marie Malmberg and Dr. Maurice Lenz. Ben was the youngest of two boys and grew up in Spuyten Duyvil in New York City. He attended Fieldston Ethical Culture School in the Bronx as a boy, and entered the Merchant Marines after high school in 1945. Two years later he joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in Fairbanks, AK, where he worked on the railroad as a hostler and freight conductor. From 1948-1952, he attended Champlain College (a precursor of the State University of NY) in Plattsburg, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. He spent a year in Colorado, lived on a ranch, and worked as a ski tow in Steamboat Springs. By 1954 he had earned an MBA from the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. Shortly after graduating, he founded his own business, B.N. Lenz Corp., where he sold “customer engineered parts” to original equipment manufacturers and served as president and manufacturer’s agent for his entire career.
In 1955, he married Mary Jane Lenz, had five children and settled on Long Island, where he spent most of his adult years. Being very much a kid himself, Ben adored being a father. He took his brood (including a Great Dane named Juno) on many adventures, from hikes through Shu swamp to trips to Jones Beach. But his family’s favorite trip was their annual camping trip to Lake George, a place he had enjoyed since his childhood and where he continued to go until his last days.
He married Pam Lenz in 1981 and joyfully added more children to his family. Together he and Pam led an Explorer Post (co-ed scouting organization) and over the years took hundreds of adolescents canoeing, backpacking, cross-country skiing and camping, as Ben happily introduced the wonders of the outdoors to kids who might not otherwise have had the opportunity. Ben was in his element as a leader of the Explorers and changed so many young lives, remaining good friends with many of them throughout his life.
Ben also enjoyed cooking, gardening, playing games, swimming in the Sound, canoeing, bird watching, reading and spending time with his family and friends. In 2002, Ben and Pam moved to Kendal, Oberlin where they enjoyed the last chapter of their lives together. These were some of his happiest days as he was determined to “make a difference” when he arrived. In his time there he accomplished a great deal, from building a miniature golf course, to creating a Precision Lawn Chair Drill Team to creating Eureka, a literary publication for those at Kendal.
Most of all, Ben loved to have fun. He had an optimistic outlook on life, a witty sense of humor, an appreciation for good food, good conversation and the outdoors. He also had an unwavering love for those close to him. He is survived by his wife, Pam Lenz; five children: Michael Lenz, Tim Lenz, Peggy Issenberg, Patty Lenz Bovie and Sue Lenz Nahon; as well as three step-children, Alice MacIntyre, Irene Winkler, Robert MacIntyre, his cousin Elise Parker, 14 grandchildren, seven nieces and nephews, and many Explorer Post kids. While Ben will be missed; he had a great life, leaving his mark on so many, and he will never be forgotten.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to “Venture Crew 447- Vermilion,” c/o Pam Lenz, 29 Kendal Drive, Oberlin, OH 44074.
Memorial Services will be held at Kendal, Oberlin, OH, on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 2 p.m. and at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at 48 Shelter Rock Road in Manhasset, NY, on Saturday, June 13, 2015 at 3 p.m.