By Rich Pollack
HIGHLAND BEACH — Lou Stern loved making a difference.
A Highland Beach town commissioner when he died Feb. 8 at 82, Mr. Stern was someone residents called on when they needed a friend in their corner.
“Lou fought for residents and he fought for the town,” said his wife of 54 years, Carol. “He loved being a commissioner in Highland Beach, he absolutely loved it.”
Along with being an advocate for individuals, Mr. Stern was a strong advocate for causes in which he believed.
For 36 years, he served on the board of the National Council for Adoption, an organization serving as a national voice for adoption concerns, working on behalf of children, adoptive parents and birth parents.
The father of an adopted son, Mr. Stern served as chairman of the organization’s board five times for a total of 13 years and was the only person to receive three of the organization’s highest honors. The last of those honors, and the one of which he was proudest, was the Ruby Lee Piester Adoption Award, a lifetime-achievement recognition presented to him and Carol in November 2015.
A man who earned a reputation for being the voice of reason, Mr. Stern became involved in Highland Beach soon after he and his family moved here in 1997 from Philadelphia, where he had been a manufacturers’ representative for several jewelry lines. He was active in his small homeowner association in the Camino Cove community, serving for many years as its president, and first got involved in local government when drafted by then-Commissioner Doris Trinley to apply for a position on the town’s Planning Board.
Mr. Stern served on that board for six years, becoming its chairman. After being forced to leave due to term limits, he made an unsuccessful bid for a seat on the Town Commission, losing to Dennis Sheridan. The two would later become close friends. In 2012 he tried again and won. He was re-elected in 2015 without opposition.
“Lou loved being involved in the community,” Carol Stern said. “He had good ideas and people listened to them.”
Though he served on the commission during some tumultuous times, Mr. Stern fought for civility and unity.
“He was kind, generous and straightforward,” his wife said. “He liked to laugh and he was just fun to be around.”
In addition to his work with the town, Mr. Stern was active in the local Republican Party.
He drew praise from fellow commissioners, who are making plans to honor his memory. Ideas being discussed include putting his name on a bench near his home and creating a collage of photos to be placed in Town Hall.
“Lou did a lot of constructive things for the town,” Commissioner Carl Feldman said. “He was just a great guy and we all loved him.”
In addition to his wife, Mr. Stern is survived by two children, Lawrence Stern and Natalie Kolton; a granddaughter, Danielle Kolton; and a sister, Sally Epstein-Piccone.
In lieu of flowers, make a donation to the National Council for Adoption, 225 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314 or to a charity of your choice.
By Rich Pollack