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LENNY SCHNEIR (May 20, 1941-May 31, 2017), who grew up in Kew Gardens, and when his mother asked him what he wanted to eat, asked for 85 cents for a corned beef sandwich, is having supper out again now. Lenny, who went to Forest Hills High School with Simon and Garfunkel and, when he didn’t go out the back door of the school to play hooky, out-Julioed Julio as the King of the Schoolyard, is back again with a pocket knife and a swagger, pitching pennies. Lenny, who led a pack of kids onto the subways to Time Square where they heckled the street preachers and peeped at the shows, is seeing the real sights now. Lenny, who was friends with Wilt Chamberlain up in the Catskills and could beat him at Horse because The Stilt wasn’t that accurate from outside and Lenny could make the world’s best trick shots, is winning pocket change from young Wilt again now. Lenny, who did just what it took to get his business degree at the University of Denver, or at least his girlfriends did what it took to get him through, has done far better than graduate. Lenny, who was the perfect Sargent Bilko in the Army, is glad he’ll never put on a uniform again, that’s for sure. Lenny, who lived 38 years at the same apartment that didn’t really even have a proper kitchen, south of Houston on Avenue of the Americas, is eating across that street at Van Dam Diner if you want to meet him there right now. Lenny, who met and married Marilyn Jacobson, and watched her emerge as the champion of women’s rights, Merlin Stone, and loved her more dearly than life, is with her again now. Lenny, who converted to worshiping Merlin, watched her become a Goddess, and spent his life believing When God Was a Woman, is there to witness it all now. Lenny, who was the top money winner at poker for many years in NYC, and schooled the best of them, is playing an inspired game again now. Lenny, who had an eye for collectibles and could buy something for $300 that sold for $30,000, has scored a real find this time. Lenny, who founded the collectibles’ club, “52 Plus Joker,” that prospers to this day, and wrote the book, Gambling Collectibles: A Sure Thing, has put his best items up for auction for us all. Lenny, who won a Gold Medal from the Florida Book Awards for the best non-fiction book in 2014, Merlin Stone Remembered, and behaved himself when it was presented to him by the Governor’s wife up in Tallahassee, is wearing his medal where it counts. Lenny, who charmed us all with his gravelly voice, laid-back wit, “Stuck in the Fifties” humor, and slow but hysterical delivery of lines, is no longer on hold pressing “pound pound pound pound pound,” anymore. Lenny Schneir, who really didn’t believe in all that heaven stuff, is gone but won’t be forgotten—not for a long time at least, and isn’t that what the real test is anyway, not being forgotten, but better than that, being remembered for a long time, or better still, being remembered as a good person? Lenny, whose apartment was a museum at the Towers out on A1A, and didn’t just know the names of his many friends there but cared about them so they will certainly catch themselves looking for him floating on his noodle in the pool. Lenny, who loved and cared deeply about Merlin’s daughters, Jenny and Cynthia, and his sister, Rene, and his nieces, Jordana and Joelle, and doesn’t want them to be sad, so smile at the pictures and paintings of him and pass them on. And whose friends will treasure some of his knickknacks at least until their own kids decide to throw them out, and whose writings, accomplishments and good deeds will keep echoing for a long time, amen. Lenny Schneir has passed on. We will miss you, Lenny. A Celebration of Life will be announced at a future date.
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Lenny, Carol Thomas and David B. Axelrod receiving a Florida Book Awards Gold Medal for best nonfiction book in 2014, Merlin Stone Remembered.