Our friend Lenny Loewentritt

This column was originally published on Roger Waldron’s blog at The Coalition for Government Procurement and was republished here with permission from the author.

It has been exactly one week since our friend, Lenny Loewentritt, passed away after battling cancer. Many of us in the procurement community are still trying to process this sad news. Indeed, the General Services Administration community, current and former employees, is in mourning over the loss of their colleague, mentor, leader, and friend.

In a sense, we cannot imagine a GSA without Lenny. Lenny loved the agency and its mission, and he loved being a public servant. He had an extraordinary life, built on daily acts of kindness, loyalty, joy, and love.

Lenny was my first supervisor when, in 1988, I reported to GSA’s Office of General Counsel in Washington, D.C. I was fresh out of law school and had no experience with the world of government procurement. It was Lenny who mentored me and taught me my craft, and, in so doing, he set forth a standard of professionalism that I have tried to emulate over the course of my career. He also demonstrated the importance of collaboration as he excitedly gathered the troops in his office to share thoughts, ideas, and analysis on a particularly tough legal issue. That collaboration, the free exchange of ideas, improved our office’s legal work product. Such professional engagement is something that I have observed among the very best lawyers in procurement both in the public and private sectors.

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During my time at GSA, Lenny served in many alternate roles as my supervisor, my colleague, and my counsel. Through it all, his understanding of GSA’s legal authorities, operations, and history were central to the success of programs, like the Federal Supply Schedules. Clients trusted him. They knew he would go the extra mile to find a sound way to achieve a business goal, consistent with the law. It is the mark of a great agency counsel when he can inform a client of the boundaries of the law associated with a particular action or approach, and, at the same time, provide sound alternatives, consistent with law, that can achieve the client’s business goals. Lenny was such a great agency counsel.

Lenny also was an incredibly loyal person. He was fiercely loyal to GSA and, even more so, to those who worked with him and for him. He went out of his way to help members of his GSA family through personal and professional challenges. I was one of the many beneficiaries of his loyalty and caring, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Lenny loved family. I often heard the latest family news regarding his wife Anne, and his children, Debbie and Neil. He was a proud, thankful husband and father. Actually, Lenny loved all families, especially children! When my daughter accompanied me into the office, Lenny would go out of his way to spend time with her, entertaining her in his office with his collection of knick-knacks and toys. My daughter’s experience was not unique; Lenny always had an open door and time for the children of GSA. Throughout my career, even after leaving GSA, whenever I spoke with Lenny, he would begin the conversation by asking about my daughter and family before anything else. He knew what was really important in life.

Lenny was a joyous person. Who else would make a point of going to the zoo every year on his birthday?  He also loved to travel. He and Anne always seemed to be heading off to some wonderful place. Lenny’s enjoyment of the world was not something he acquired as an adult. Indeed, he often reminisced about his summer camp experience, which he loved. I was among many of his associates that saw photos of the experience and heard about the reunions. This joy of camaraderie extended to his work life. He loved to get together with everyone on the team and relive the events with reams of pictures.

People appreciated Lenny for his skill and professionalism, and they loved him for his humanity and his kindness. He was and always will be a part of GSA because he touched the lives of everyone he encountered. He was a man of decency and integrity, and his passing is a loss to our community.

I speak for the Coalition when I offer sincere condolences to his family. May his name and memory always be blessed.