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Silverman Remembered as 'Iconic' Member of Manhattan Beach Community

Jan 31, 2018 10:19PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

AJ Silverman sings at the memorial for his father Les Silverman at Shade Hotel on Wednesday

More than two hundred people packed Shade Hotel on Wednesday to honor Lester Silverman, the Manhattan Beach optometrist and community activist who passed away last week in Jamaica.

He was the kind of person who came along "once in a blue blood moon," his wife Angela Silverman told the assembled crowd of friends, family, and community members, almost all of whom had some story to remember about the gregarious Silverman.

Silverman, 64, was the owner of Look! Optometry in Downtown Manhattan Beach at the Metlox Plaza. A graduate of the Leadership Manhattan Beach program, he had served on several city commissions. He was also active in the Manhattan Beach Rotary, the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professionals Association, the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF), and the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce.

As an outgoing and well-liked personality, Les Silverman was widely known around town for his gift of gab and for his genuine interest in getting to know people from all walks of life.

The memorial began with Silverman's son AJ playing guitar and singing songs that had a special connection with his father, whom he called a "role model."

Angela Silverman then told the crowd about how her husband, born in New York, first came to Los Angeles and worked as an advocate for farm workers' rights, assisting the efforts of Cesar Chavez. Sliverman later worked his way to becoming an optometrist, and ultimately carved out a niche as a leader in the Manhattan Beach community. Silverman's daughter Sophie followed by noting his deep and continuing commitment to equality and social justice throughout his life.

Other speakers included friends, family members, representatives from the Sholem Community and synagogues in which he was active, and community leaders.

Kelly Stroman, executive director of the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professionals Association, said that when she had the sad task of informing members of Silverman's passing, "I have never in my life been so overwhelmed by so many emails and responses. The recurring theme was, everyone knew him, everyone loved him, and he was iconic in this community."

Stroman added that Silverman was one of the first to sign on to lease a space in the Metlox complex when it was first constructed, because he had a "vision" that the location was sure to become the heart of the downtown community. His prediction turned out to be apt, just as he in turn became a well-known fixture in downtown life.

"His power came from his gigantic heart, his enormous intellect, and his vision and willingness to build something," said Mayor Amy Howorth. "He truly helped build what my sense of community is."

Howorth, who called Silverman the true definition of a "mensch," added, "Les had something that is so needed in this world: kindness."

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi praised Silverman for being "not just a great eye doctor, but for his passion for social justice."

"He was always fighting for the underdog, and he never forgot where he came from," said Muratsuchi.

In lieu of flowers, the Silverman family has asked that contributions be made to a YouCaring fund to help defray funeral costs.

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