Martin Kesten of Bloomfield, CT, cherished husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle, successful businessman, inventor, philanthropist and veteran passed away at the age of 86 on January 14, 2013 after a long illness. Born in Vienna, Austria in 1926, Martin emigrated with his parents to escape the growing brutality of the Nazis, beginning a two year journey in 1939 that would take him through 10 countries before arriving in the U.S in 1941. Throughout the journey, with all the challenges of attaining proper papers, hostile border crossings, hunger, and illness, the family always found fellow Jews to aid them.
Martin remained a devoted son to his father, Joseph Kesten of Monticello and Miami, and Mother, Regina Kesten of Hartford, until each passed away in 1974. Although separated by the Atlantic Ocean he remained close to his older brother Salo until his passing in 2009.
A 1946 graduate of Weaver High School in Hartford, Martin entered the United States Army in 1945 and served through 1946. Martin became a citizen of the United States in 1945 while stationed in Florida for basic training. He attended the Connecticut State Technical Institute (now Capital Community College) and graduated with high honors in 1949, earning an Associate’s Degree. He continued his professional development and education at the University of Hartford, the American Society for Quality Control, and the Connecticut State Technical Institute.
Martin married Muriel Fishberg in 1949, celebrating their marriage with friends and family at the Hotel Garde in Hartford. Originally fixed up by their mothers, the marriage flourished.
Martin worked for H.P Townsend Mfg. Co., Bland Burner Co., and Dynamic Control, gaining experience and expertise in engineering, quality control, management and organization, production and material control, and purchasing. In 1966 he was hired as chairman of the board of directors at Preston Engravers, joining with James Ferris, the late Anthony Monaco, and Paul Monaco to chart a new course for the company. After a year, he earned his partnership in Preston. The company began a period of expansion and invention with Martin aboard, building their own new 20,000 sq. ft. facility in Windsor which began operation in 1968. Over the years, the company added onto the original plant. Once relocated, Preston Engravers employed as many as 160 workers. After the partners sold Preston Engravers in 1984, Martin continued on in a consulting capacity to successive corporate owners of the business before retiring in 1995. Paul and James remained close, trusted friends for the rest of Martin’s life.
As an inventor, Martin held 16 patents in the United States and 10 in Canada, improving the efficiency and precision of the die-cutting process. Martin received professional recognition from the Flexographic Technical Association for “Distinguished Service.” He was a Senior Member of the American Society for Quality Control and a past Chairman of Membership for that society. He was the Connecticut State Technical Institute Alumni President for eleven years. Martin had a long history of involvement with community programs, both as a generous supporter and as an active board member. His dedication to Congregation Beth Shalom of Hartford was instrumental to their merger with Beth Hillel of Bloomfield in 1969. With his wife, he was an active member of the Beth Hillel congregation. He was a long serving member of the synagogue board as well as active with Muriel in the Mr. and Mrs. Club. He and his wife proudly built the Kesten-Fishberg Chapel at Beth Hillel. He worked on the design and construction of Beth Hillel’s Social Hall, and the design and execution of the ark for the Ida and Samuel Cohen wing.
Martin brought humor and charm to his interactions with people of all walks of life. He was a loyal friend, ever-helpful and generous. Martin enjoyed dining out with friends and family gatherings. With Muriel, he hosted and presided over more than six decades of Thanksgiving dinners. Martin took great pride in his children’s accomplishments and was always encouraging and supportive about their educations and careers.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 63 years Muriel Kesten, his five devoted children Sharon Kesten, Harlie Kesten, Allen Kesten, Steven Kesten and Michael Kesten and their wives, husbands and partners, Fred Wheeler, Stephen Waite, Lauren Kesten, and Amy Zeldes, and by his granddaughter Madeline Kesten. He is also survived by his niece Carol Bojarski and her husband Larry Bojarski who were like another daughter and son-in-law, their children Sarah Lewis and Mathew Bojarski, and the newest member of the family, Charlotte Lewis, daughter of Sarah and Stephen Lewis. He is also survived by his dear cousin and childhood buddy Malvina Joles Brady and her family, and Marilyn and Alan and Lindsay Goodman, and Susan and Paul Steiner, and Warren and Leslie Gordon and family. He is also survived by Tony and Erika Kesten in England as well as other family members from the Rath, Joles, Kesten, Greif, and Fishberg lineage. Love and care for his family, deep faith, love of his adopted country, and active engagement with the community are the hallmarks of Martin Kesten’s remarkable life.
Funeral service will be Wednesday, January 16, 2013, at 1:30 PM , in the Sanctuary of Beth Hillel Synagogue, 160 Wintonbury Ave., Bloomfield, with Rabbi Gary Atkins officiating. Interment will be private. Weinstein Mortuary, Hartford, in charge of arrangements. Relatives and friends may call at Beth Hillel before the service, beginning at 1:00 PM. Expressions of sympathy may be made in Martin’s memory to the Helen and Harry Gray Cancer Center at Hartford Hospital – Fund Development, 80 Seymour St. P.O. Box 5037, Hartford, CT, 06102, or charity of choice. For further information, directions, or to sign the guest book for Martin, please visit online at www.weinsteinmortuary.com/funerals.cfm