Obituaries » Stephen Oliver Lesser
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October 1, 1939 - June 15, 2021
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October 1, 1939 – June 15, 2021 On June 15, 2021, Stephen O. Lesser, beloved family member and friend, passed away with his family at his side. He was 81 years old. Son of Julian Lesser and Regina Kobacker Fadiman, Stephen was born in Los Angeles, CA on October 1, 1939 and attended UCLA, Stanford University, and Johns Hopkins University, where he earned a Masters Degree in International Relations. With curiosity, humor, and a deep interest in other cultures, Stephen traveled the world and supported cross-cultural exchanges at home. At Stanford he studied under the late civil rights activist Allard Lowenstein and participated in the Mississippi Summer Project to register African American voters. He later served as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer in Japan, where he developed a lifelong interest in Asia, and spent years as a board member of non-profit organizations including the USC Pacific Asia Museum, Johns Hopkins-Nanjing Council, Wende Museum, and his alma mater, Desert Sun School. He spoke multiple languages, sponsored graduate student scholarships at UCLA and USC for Asian studies, supported local arts institutions including LACMA, and funded programs for documentary film makers. He leaves behind his sister Belinda, brother David, sister-in-law Elisabeth, stepbrothers Jim and Jeff, nephews Joshua and Matthew, niece Meagan, multiple cousins, and lifelong friends throughout the world.A memorial celebrating his life is pending.Stephen was a man of broad interests. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in his name to the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies, USC US-China Institute, Orchestral Studies Department at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Liberty Hill Foundation, Leo Baeck Temple, Wende Museum, or a charity of your choice.