Len Stenger

Len Stenger
(Leo) Nishta and I are here today to honor Len Stenger with Rotary’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Len is here with his family, who prepared the slide show and are well aware of this honor; Nishta will introduce the family and tell about his Rotary achievements.
 
But first, let me remark on Len and some of his professional accomplishments.
 
Len is a technical guy.  This will become evident as we look at this career choices and accomplishments. As you have heard, he was born in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in downtown Brooklyn where he won a gold medal in Physics, bronze medal in mathematics and was a member of the Arista Honor Society.
 
We all know someone from Brooklyn; they always have a sense of pride in looking back at their hometown.  They talk about “Flatbush”—what is that?  Only those from Brooklyn know. Len took the “A” Train to High School. What is the “A” train? Is there a “B” train? Only those from Brooklyn know these things. Ebbet’s Field where the Dodgers played, I am sure Len is familiar with that. The Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field in 1957 when Len was about 14—I am sure he remembers that sad day for Brooklyn as owner Mr. O’Malley was moving the team to LA.
 
I read that there was a joke in Brooklyn at that time asking, “What would you do if you had a gun with 2 bullets and you were in a room with Hitler, Stalin and O’Malley?”  The answer from Brooklyn---“Use two bullets on O’Malley.”
 
Len attended The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now the engineering school of NYU) where he studied the Nuclear Engineering option in the Chemical Engineering program. He was the first in his family to attend college. He excelled in his years there, where he was awarded scholarships from the New York State Regents, the American Chicle Company and the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute along with the American Institute of Chemists Award for Scholastic Achievement. He was also inducted into Tau Beta PI Engineering Honor Society,  Omega Xi Epsilon-Chemical Engineering Honor Society and graduated Cum Laude.
 
Yes, Len is a technical guy.  
 
Len came to grad school in the U of M Chemical Engineering Department where he was awarded Graduate Fellowships from the National Society Foundation and the U.S. Department of Interior.
 
Along the way, Len joined ROTC where he was Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. He excelled there as well as a member of the National Military Honor Society, named a Distinguished Military Student, and served as Treasurer and President of the Student Chapter, Society of American Military Engineers.
 
He graduated from U of M with a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering and was well along as a PhD candidate when Uncle Sam called him to Ft. Belvoir, Virginia.   There he taught computer programming to officers including officers from our allies and Len soon made friends with officers from the UK, Israel, and South Vietnam, among others.
 
Len developed techniques to use the then new handheld computers for use by construction battalions in the field and was promoted to the rank of Captain. (Remember those early HP-35’s for $400? Len talked about how these were programmable, and it was such a breakthrough!)
 
His career then took him to the Owens Corning Fiberglass Company in Ohio.
 
After initially working on design tools to aid manufacturing and technical analysis, he quickly rose to the position of Laboratory Manager tasked with establishing a respected Physics Research Laboratory from scratch.
 
Yes, Len is a technical guy.
 
Len organized two laboratories set up to measure heat transfer and moisture performance of Owens-Cornings insulation products in residential and commercial buildings. These labs published over 40 technical papers covering theoretical and experimental work. Several building code standards dealing with insulation performance were influenced by this work.
 
Len was promoted to Laboratory Director responsible for all product development and product support of OCF’s insulation and roofing products. There were 180 engineers, scientists and support staff on his team. Len earned two U.S. patents and published a paper.
 
Yes, Len was, and is, a technical guy.
 
When Len and family returned to Ann Arbor, Len was associated with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences where he was program manager.  He led a team of 13 companies in the development of a grant proposal to the National Institute of Science and Technology—the team earned a $7.8M award.
 
Len’s love of chemistry led him to teach general chemistry at Washtenaw Community College for 10 years; it had been a number of years but Len points out it only took one semester to regain his expertise in chemistry.  I am sure we could ask him to recite the periodic table or give us the atomic weight of any of those elements, and he would respond.
 
Yes, Len is, and was, a technical guy.
 
Len has always had an interest in sailing and in recent years has taken on a project to build a catboat---a sailboat with the mast well forward in the hull. Len assures us the boat will indeed fit through the basement door when finished!
 
Yes, Len is a technical guy, a very accomplished technical guy.
 
(Nishta) Let me start by introducing Len’s family—his wife, Lois, of course, whom you all know in her own right as a member, social worker and human services consultant.
 
Their daughter Penelope, an Environmental Scientist, and her husband Tony Moskus, a teacher; they live in Ann Arbor. Their son Brian, Director of Corporate Functions at TIAA-CREF, and his wife Cathy Thorrez, a nurse; they have come from Davidson, NC. And David came from New York City, where he is Vice President and Portfolio Manager at Sentinel Real Estate. They are a distinguished clan, the Stengers. And present today are also the next generation of Stengers.
 
In preparing this personal side of Len, I have had the help of his family.
 
Len, while in graduate school, attended a U of M party for social workers, all women, I presume, in the 60s where he met Lois. They were married in 1967. Penelope, Brian, and David were beneficiaries of Len’s academic and pedagogic bent. In their words:
 
--If you asked at a dinner table the meaning of a word, you had to fetch the big dictionary or an encyclopedia.
 
--If you were to ask for homework help, he would NOT give you the answer, but instead explain the relevance of the topic and then make you work it out yourself.  Very frustrating!
 
--If you helped with electrical work, you had to re-learn basic equations, like V=IR (Ohm’s law).
 
-- If you were to sail with him on Mullet Lake, he will undoubtedly teach you both sailing terminology and the physics of sailing.
 
They have vivid memories of the object lessons. In their words: “As an illustration,if you were to play with matches when you were five years old and accidentally lit a tree on fire, you would not only be grounded for a month and have to write “I will not start a fire again,” 1,000 times but also be escorted to the town fire chief for a lecture on fire safety and be instructed to hand out 9-1-1 stickers to everyone in the neighborhood.”
 
Len gardens, collects stamps, and builds boats. Len loves trains and National Parks.
 
Len’s Rotary affiliation began in Granville, Ohio. He joined us in July 2001. And we struck gold. His diligent participation in numerous projects and committees of the club is awe-inspiring. He became one of the longest serving members of the International Humanitarian Projects Committee, including being the chair for an extended period. Lois and Len have travelled to Turkey on a friendship exchange and gone to India on a Polio immunization mission.
 
Len was given District 6380’s Terry Youlton Award for commitment to International Service. He went on to become President of our club in 2012-13. And so today we award Len the club’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. (Remarks by Leo Shedden and Nishta Bhatia, Nov. 25, 2015)