Lester G. Abeloff

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Lester G. Abeloff died Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at his home in Stroudsburg. Our nation lost another of America’s “Greatest Generation” when he passed.

He was born Dec. 5, 1917, in East Stroudsburg, and was a son of Nathan and Pearl Ruth (Nadleman) Abeloff. He attended East Stroudsburg High School and graduated from East Stroudsburg State Teachers College in 1939. After graduation, he taught for a time at Blair Academy in New Jersey.

He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 3, 1941, and graduated from Mather Field in Sacramento, Calif., on May 2, 1942, with a navigator’s rating, later training with heavy bombardment squadrons in Iowa. On March 10, 1943, he left for overseas duty as chief navigator of his squadron, the 2nd Bomb Group of the 49th squadron, where he flew 56 combat missions on B-17 “Flying Fortress” heavy bombers. Lester attained the rank of captain and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart medals for his service in the Army Air Corps, later achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel upon retirement from the USAF Reserves.

Returning home from the war effort, he rejoined his wife, Clementine (Kupiszewski) Abeloff and his son, Daniel, and began his long, successful career in the automobile business. For Lester’s and Clementine’s generous donations to the community, the Clementine Abeloff Community Center at Pocono Medical Center and the Abeloff Center for Performing Arts at East Stroudsburg University were named in their honor.

Lester and Clementine Abeloff, along with Dale and Frances Hughes, were the first recipients of the Frank Schoelch Community Commitment Award presented by the Pocono Mountains Chamber of Commerce. East Stroudsburg University issued Lester the Eberly Award for Philanthropy in 2000 and an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2004. Among numerous other community tributes, the Pocono Mountains Chapter of Fundraising Professionals honored him with the lifetime achievement award at its National Philanthropy Day dinner in 2008.

Lester is survived by his son, Daniel Paul Abeloff of Carlsbad, Calif.; his sisters-in-law, Mildred Ditmore and Marilyn Kupiszewski; and his nieces and nephews, Emily (Abeloff) Adler and her husband, David; Edwin Abeloff and his wife, Annemarie; and Andrew Abeloff, Amy Abeloff, Robert Adler, Jonathon Adler, Candace Adler, Thomas Devaney, James Devaney, Michael Ditmore, Nicholas Ditmore, Ashley Ditmore, Lisa Adams, David Kupiszewski, Diane Rushen, Robert Kupizewski, Gail Phillips and Joseph Zateeny.

In addition to his wife and parents, his brothers, Maynard Abeloff and Murray Abeloff, predeceased him.