Louis B. Funston (Funkenstein) August 21,1945---August 25,2003

 

by Christopher Menkin

 

The obituary in the South Carolina Anderson Independent-Mail newspaper read, ď Mr. Louis B. Funston, age 58, husband of Kathleen Ellis Funston of 36 Bay View, Belvedere, CA, died Monday, August 25,2003 at his residence.

 

I had met Louis Funkenstein in the early 1970ís, introduced him to Mac Pollack

of Key Lease in Redwood City, California, and to Russ Rickards, then of Cenval

Leasing to eventually become Bank of the West Leasing. He and Russ became very good friends. Steve Crane of Bank of the West Leasing said Louis was one of their top producers. He had visited Louis in the hospital two weeks ago where

he had gone for one of his series of treatments.

 

When I had met him, he had just left U.S. Leasing as a salesman. He wanted to become a leasing broker. He chose the name Western Leasing. At first, it was computers, then metal working machinery. Later he was to find a major niche in bakery equipment, food processing and packaging equipment that kept him very busy. He and I along with Mont Gates of Utah started a California brokerís association in the late 1970ís that grew into over 60 members until the then Western Association of Equipment Leasing decided they would allow brokers to join. I think one of the reasons for the disbandment was we had let funders into the group and it changed the meetings and thrust of the organization. Louis was president for several years. Also many of us decided to become lessors, on a limited scale, and some on a major scale, such as A.J. Batt, then of San Mateo, California, and Jim Harris of Oregon.

 

I spoke to Lou about ten days ago by telephone. His voice was raspy. He

did not want anyone to know he was sick. He had pancreatic cancer. He

thought he would arrest it. It was under one of his chemotherapy treatments

at the hospital that he caught an infection, that reportedly cost him his

life, only a few days after he had turned 58 years old.

 

I ran into him at 49er games. One of his vendors had seats about six rows from

ours. He often would take his son, Robert Louis, now in junior high school. His girl, Blake Ellis, is in the eighth grade, I believe. Louis was very athletic. In the seventies, ran, rode a bicycle, was in great physical shape, played all types of sports very competitively.

 

I had introduced him to my late wifeís sister. They were going to get married.

Letís just say he was serious, and she was not. He wanted a prenuptial agreement.

She did not. He met his present wife, Kathleen Ellis, and as I understand it, the only condition she had was that he change his name from Funkenstein to Funston.

 

Lou was born in Anderson, South Carolina, and still had his thick Southern Jewish

accent. He was a graduate of Baylor School for Boys in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He was a manager of the Georgia Tech Basketball Team. The obituary said when he died he was coach for the Catholic Youth Organization Basketball League of Marin County, California, and an active member of the Temple of Israel.

 

He had a great sense of humor. He had a soft voice, and with his Southern Jewish

accent, he could make any joke sound funny. He could also talk you into most

anything. You knew he was getting ready to close you when he lowered his voice,

so you had to lean closer to hear what he had to say. Sometimes to make his

point, it would become a whisper, like he was telling you a secret, taking

you into his confidence. Telling a joke, his voice would get louder and louder

until the punch line. He could orchestrate the volume, and I think sometimes

he made his accent stronger on purpose, as if add another nuance to the

point he wanted to make. There is no doubt he had Southern charm. You looked

forward to seeing him, visiting with him, enjoying his company.

 

He cared about his customers. Funding sources loved him as he not only had

very high approval rates, but got the leases signed. He was a person both

his customers and funding sources trusted. He had integrity. He made money.

He enjoyed spending time with his family. His office was not far from

his beautiful house, and when the economy turned around, he moved the

office into his home. He died at his residence on Monday.

 

The funeral was yesterday at the Old Silverbrook Cemetery, Anderson, South Carolina officiated by rabbi James Cohn.

 

The family suggested that flowers be omitted and memorials be made to the American Leasing Cancer Society, 154 Milestone way, Greenville, SC 29615, the Hospice of the Upstate, 1835 Rogers Road, Anderson, SC 29621 or Hospice of Marin, 150 Nellen Avenue, Core Madera, California 94925

 


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