Recent Obituaries
In Memoriam Archive

Arthur Lezin ’49

July 6, 2019, in Bend, Oregon.

Born in Los Angeles, Arthur grew up in Seattle. He earned a BA in economics at Reed, where he wrote his thesis, “Certain Social and Psychological Aspects of Industrial Relations,” advised by Prof. Maure L. Goldschmidt [political science 1935–81].

He made lasting friendships with students and faculty at Reed, where, he said, “I was encouraged, more accurately required, to think critically and express myself clearly.”

After graduating, he got a job selling diamonds in Switzerland. That didn’t work out, but he did meet Alice, who worked for Swissair and would become his wife and fellow adventurer. Their courtship took off, and they were married within months. Arthur quit his job and the couple toured Europe for three months in his Porsche.

Arthur spent much of his career serving the U.S. Agency for International Development, an arm of the State Department, which began almost by accident when a former college buddy told him about it. In 1962, the Lezins and their six-week-old daughter, Nicole, left for Guatemala, where Arthur began an assignment as an assistant program officer, planning and managing foreign assistance programs in developing countries. So began a tour of duty that took the Levins, and eventually two other children, to Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, Pakistan, Burundi, Zaire, Mauritania, and Haiti, with several years spent in Washington, DC.

“The challenge was how to make a significant impact outside the government,” Arthur said of his work. “We channeled assistance and training—growing food, vaccinating children, educating girls—directly to the people of the country. To say the recipients of our work appreciated our efforts would be an understatement.”

The gratitude he and Alice felt from the people is part of why he worked in USAID for 25 years. He wrote a book, From Afghanistan to Zaire, chronicling much of his service career, illustrated with his own black-and-white photographs.

In 1982, he took a sabbatical from USAID to pursue a master’s in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Hoping to establish a more stable lifestyle, for a time, he took a job as the assistant to the president at Reed. But before long, he took another foreign service assignment and moved to Pakistan.

After retiring to Bend, Oregon, Arthur pursued his passion for fly-fishing, which eventually was replaced with games of bridge and Boggle. He had a quick wit and was an avid photographer and a prolific writer, publishing multiple articles and two books, including A Case of Loyalty, a memoir about the successful battle his father waged to clear his name following his discharge from the U.S. Navy at the height of McCarthyism.

He is survived by Alice, his wife of 57 years, and his children: Nicole, Katya, and Ben.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2019

comments powered by Disqus