This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published June 8, 2021
Artist, World War II history buff, political junkie, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, often-disappointed New York Giants fan, chess maven, social justice devotee, frightful flirt but devoted family man, raconteur extraordinaire…Leonard “Len,” “Leo” Nodelman, 92, died May 31 at Middlesex Hospital. A true Depression baby, Leonard was born in New Haven on Jan. 21, 1929, an inauspicious time to enter the world with its rapidly declining economy and rising global political instability. He spent his first two years in New Haven where his father had one of his five stores selling custom-made suits, but moved to Brooklyn, New York, with his mother, two brothers, and sister after his father’s death when Len was only two. He escaped from Brooklyn as soon as he could, moving to the Village in his late teens and pursuing a career in commercial art. He married young and had a daughter, Michelle, by his first marriage, moving back to Brooklyn, then once again relocated to downtown Manhattan after his divorce.
It was there that he met Ellen, his wife for close to 60 years. They moved to Rockland County in 1968 with two small children, Rachel and Adam, and remained there for 32 years, Len commuting to New York City for his mostly freelance work. In 2000, they sold their house in Nyack and moved out to Ellen’s family’s old house in Deep River where Len found true contentment, loving the quiet and beauty of the countryside, the woods surrounding the house, the views of the Connecticut River, and the unhurried pace of life in this corner of the world.
Not that his pace slowed down much. He continued to paint in his studio; taught all his grandchildren to play chess (as he had originally taught his children); frequented the Essex Library, running through virtually its entire stock of books on World War II and grabbing every new book on politics that appeared on the shelf as soon as it arrived; went for walks with his wife along the shoreline, especially across the causeway to Fenwick and back; socialized with friends and neighbors and family; and took special pride in the many accomplishments of his grandchildren, who spent a lot of vacation time with their grandparents. Those who knew him remember his many anecdotes, drawn from his own living history, from engaging in social and political protest in his teens and 20s to his encounters with people ranging from Paul Robeson, Woody Guthrie, and Eleanor Roosevelt to Willem deKooning and Ad Reinhardt.
Leonard was predeceased by his son Adam, but is survived by his wife Ellen, his daughter Michelle Smyth, his daughter Rachel Alemany (Jason Alemany), his grandsons Caleb Alemany (Jaime Harrison) and Jonah Alemany, his daughter-in-law Stacey Nodelman (John Caselli), his granddaughter Pascal Frey, his granddaughters Feliks Nodelman and Jasper Nodelman, his niece Ilene Friedman, and his nephews Ira Nodelman and Larry Preville (Alice).
Shiva was observed June 2 and 3 at the Nodelman home. Burial will be private. A memorial gathering will be held this summer.
Donations in his memory may be made to the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantry, the Community Music School in Centerbrook, and/or Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester.
To share a memory or express a condolence to Mr. Nodelman’s family, please visit www.rwwfh.com. Arrangements are through the Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home, in Centerbrook.