Jesse Lehman, a successful printer who took on a new career in his 50’s and served for nearly 20 years as a volunteer lawyer, died at his home in Floral Park on Sept. 16, 2010. He was 95.
A native New Yorker, Mr. Lehman graduated from the McBurney School and then from the University of Wisconsin in 1935. Encouraged by his father to join the family’s commercial printing business, he completed a pioneering program in printing management at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1937. After working in related industries, he joined his father’s company, The Georgian Press, Inc. in 1940.
In August 1942, he joined the army, ultimately reaching the rank of captain and serving as chief of publications for the Continental Air Forces. Following the war, he returned to the Georgian Press and in 1948, after buying out their co-owners, he became president and his father, Saul, chairman of the company, building a highly respected firm in the graphic arts community. Jesse supervised the evolution of the company from letterpress to offset lithography.
Having achieved considerable status in the printing industry, Mr. Lehman decided to fulfill a life-long dream of becoming a lawyer. While continuing in his role at The Georgian Press, he enrolled in the evening division of NYU Law School in 1963 and graduated with an LL. B. in 1967. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in the same year. From 1967 until 1971, Mr. Lehman served as a part-time volunteer attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He told his daughter, Peggy Curchack, that he traveled to Alabama to assist on cases challenging racial discrimination against African-Americans in employment. Among other assignments he was involved in the effort to achieve meaningful desegregation of schools in Camden and Cherry Hill, NJ.
Following a major expansion in 1971, Mr. Lehman was fully occupied with business responsibilities for several years, but in 1986 he was able to resume his public service volunteer legal activities with the New York Legal Aid Society. He worked for 15 years as an intake attorney with the Family Law Practice of the Society. His service was honored with the Pro Bono Publico award in 1997.
Jesse Lehman was a remarkably engaged and engaging friend, husband, father and community member. He served on the boards of the New York Employing Printers Association and the UJA Graphic Arts group. In 1950, he and his family moved to Great Neck, where became involved in involved in public education, serving as a member of the board of the Great Neck Education Association.
Mr. Lehman was an avid traveler, taking his wife, children and grandchildren on fabulous trips throughout the world, visiting and exploring all seven continents. He was a voracious and thoughtful reader of a wide range of literature, a lover of classical music, a skilled bridge player, an enthusiastic golfer and a loyal sports fan. He liked to recall riding from his childhood home in the Bronx to Yankee Stadium on Babe Ruth’s running boards.
In recent years, he and his wife Dana established the Dana and Jesse Lehman Foundation, providing support to a number of human rights, women’s rights and arts organizations.
In addition to his wife of 69 years, he is survived by his son Jonathan; two daughters, Ellen Dohmen and Peggy Curchack; granddaughters, Laurie Dohmen and Alison Lehman Hori; and six great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at the Riverside-Nassau North Chapel, 55 North Station Plaza, Great Neck, at noon on Sunday, Oct. 3. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to a charity of your choice.