2955 West Farwell Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60645
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The funeral service will be live streamed on Friday, February 26, 2021 at 07:00 AM Central Time.
The inimitable Lester Sutker, of Chicago, Illinois, passed away Wednesday morning at the admirable age of ninety-nine and a half, preceded in death by his first wife, Jo. He is survived by his wife, Ethel and his three children: Ira (Linda Cooperman), Nena Burrows (Don), and Burt (Deb Klatskin). Frequently boasting, as his mother Mary had told him, that he had been “born in a sac”, he lived a long, fortunate life worthy of his unique entry into the world.
Les was born July 25th, 1921 in Chicago to Mary and Max Sutker and was the third of the four brothers: Melvin, Chester, Lester, and Eli. From his early school days he discovered his love of athletics, and excelled at swimming, gymnastics and handball. After attending Northwestern University, he became an engineer in the Merchant Marines in WWII. The details are hazy but his tales from those youthful adventures included buying a Cuban car to sell in Florida, living in New York City and escorting prisoners of war overseas.
In 1950 he met and married the lovely Josephine Rovner of Marshalltown, Iowa, bringing her back to Chicago with him. He helped found the Hillel Torah Day School in Skokie, Illinois which all three of their children later attended, and started Morse Laboratories, a successful optical and denture lab, where he would later be joined in business by his eldest son, Ira.
Ever industrious and constantly active, Les and his father designed and built a five room log cabin in Michiana, Michigan. This began a lifelong tradition of summering by the lake, and he was so involved in the Michiana Religious Services that he was known to many as the “Mayor of Michiana”. He also proudly co-hosted a JNF fundraiser there each year.
Charitable giving was a defining feature of Les’s life, and he was known by his community to be an extremely generous man, with a reputation that he would help all who asked. He enjoyed being honored by the institutions he endowed, and most recently he helped fund the senior center in West Rogers Park and made large contributions to the construction of two schools in Israel.
In 1998, six years after Josephine passed away and at the ripe age of 77, he struck gold a second time when he married the wonderful Ethel Kolom. He was welcomed into her family by her five kids: Deborah Kohn (Jeffrey), Karen Kerr (Moshe), Francyne Abell (Norman), Adena Goldrich (Robert), and Louis Kolom (Miriam). Together they spent their twilight years traveling the world, a passion sparked from his days as a Merchant Marine, and went everywhere from Spain to China, though they spent most of their time abroad in Israel. Between the two of them they had 109 grandchildren, and besides charming them with his trademark puzzles and tricks nothing delighted him more than traveling to and fro the numerous family weddings, births, and bar mitzvahs.
Indeed, if Les had any regrets about the long, prosperous life he had lived, it would only have been that he was just a few months shy of turning one hundred and the lavish party he would have thrown to celebrate.
The service and interment took place in Israel.
Arrangements by Chicago Jewish Funerals - Skokie Chapel, 847.229.8822, www.cjfinfo.com