Lester (right) with his husband, Andy Peters

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In Memoriam: Remembering Lester Gribetz

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of our longtime Board member, Lester Gribetz. Lester, one of our earliest supporters, played an instrumental role in the growth of God’s Love, sharing his wisdom and donating generously in all four decades of our existence.

Born in Washington Heights in New York City, Lester was the youngest of five children. After receiving his Master’s degree, Lester was drafted to the Army where he served for the next three years. After his time of service, he joined Bloomingdale’s, where he worked his way up from the training squad to Vice Chairman of the company. A true force in retail, Lester played a key role in making Bloomingdale’s a premiere destination in the world of unique goods and elevating the brand’s image and products.

In the late 1980s, Lester added another title – that of philanthropist. The AIDS epidemic was in full swing and as a gay man with many friends and community members affected by the disease, Lester made it his mission to put his time and energy and the company’s resources in to caring for God’s Love clients through fundraisers and corporate contributions. Lester nearly single-handedly made Thanksgiving possible in our years at West Park Presbyterian Church by securing a truck in which we roasted our turkeys on the street, as our then-kitchen did not have the number of ovens to accommodate Thanksgiving for everyone. God’s Love staff member Pat Costello remembers “Lester’s foresight and generosity helped make Thanksgiving not only possible, but truly memorable for all involved. I’ll always remember and love him for that.”

In partnership with Blaine, Lester helped secure the funds for God’s Love to move from our first kitchen in the basement of the West Presbyterian Church in to our second kitchen at the Youth Hostel on 103rd and Amsterdam.

Hear from Lester about his Work with God's Love

In his personal life Lester was predeceased by his partner of twenty years, Tim Mench. 15 years later, Lester fell deeply in love with his husband Andy Peters who survives him.  They packed a lifetime of experiences and love in the 13 years they got to spend together. Recently, he and Andy moved to Vermont to be surrounded by nature and continue to share in new experiences.

Lester finished his time at God’s Love as a beloved Board of Trustees member, continuing to advise on our growth and operations. Lester leaves a legacy of great love and care for our clients. We are grateful for all that Lester did in support of our life-affirming mission, and we will miss him very much.

Thank you Lester, for a lifetime of loving support for our clients. You are forever in our hearts.

Watch Lester speak about his history with God’s Love here. Hear Lester speak here with his great-nieces about his recent move to Vermont and efforts to combat climate change.

Services to celebrate Lester’s life will be held on Monday, June 19th at 1pm at B’Nai Jeshurun Sanctuary/Synagogue at 257 West 88th Street. 

Please share your memories of Lester in the comments.

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