Longtime Fort Wayne business and community leader Leonard Goldstein has died

This 2016 News-Sentinel.com photo shows Leonard and Rikki Goldstein shortly before they moved from Fort Wayne to Carmel, near Indianapolis, after living in Fort Wayne for more than 70 years. Leonard Goldstein died Friday. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)

Leonard Goldstein, a longtime successful Fort Wayne businessman and community leader for social justice causes, died Friday in Carmel, north of Indianapolis.

Goldstein, 97, and his wife, Rikki, had lived in Fort Wayne for 71 years before moving in late 2016 to Carmel to be closer to family. She survives.

A service was planned Monday morning at Achduth Vesholom Congregation in Fort Wayne, where the couple were longtime members, his obituary said. The burial ceremony was to take place at Lindenwood Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood, his obituary said.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, the Goldsteins met while both were attending Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. They married and moved to Fort Wayne in 1945, they said during an October 2016 interview The News-Sentinel.

After working for local companies, Leonard Goldstein founded his own company, Midland Inc., which represented small and medium-sized companies trying to sell products overseas.

The Goldsteins both were very active in social issues in Fort Wayne.

In the mid-1970s, Leonard served one term on the Fort Wayne Community Schools board of school trustees, where he led the effort to push FWCS to desegregate its schools.

Leonard also was active in the leadership of the Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne, including helping start the Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University in Bloomington, which has become one of the top programs of its kind in the country.

Throughout his time in Fort Wayne, Leonard stayed active on the Jewish Federation board and its Community Relations Council committee.

He also was involved for more than 30 years with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU), which he described in 2016 as “a natural thing for me” because of his strong passion for ensuring people receive just and fair treatment.

That passion also inspired him to write frequent newspaper guest columns and letters to the editor, which he continued until just recently.

At the ACLU of Indiana, Leonard was known as a strong advocate for civil rights, and particularly for First Amendment protections guaranteeing separation of government and religion, the organization’s legal affairs director said in 2016.

After being an active volunteer at her children’s schools, Rikki helped start what is now the Women’s Bureau in 1976 and worked there for 20 years doing counseling and supervising programs that helped women re-enter the workforce after a divorce or death of a spouse, they said previously.

In 1996, at age 70, Rikki moved to Neighborhood Health Clinics in Fort Wayne, where she served as director of social work, outreach and other programs for 20 years before retiring in late August 2016.

Rikki helped found the Fort Wayne Ballet and served on its board of directors, they said in 2016. Leonard has served as board chairs at both Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. He also is a longtime member of the board and committees at The Phil.

The Goldsteins both served on the board of directors of the local Planned Parenthood organization during its early years in Fort Wayne.

Rikki and Leonard Goldstein each were presented Sagamore of the Wabash awards in 1994. The award is the highest honor the Indiana governor can give, and it typically is presented for distinguished service to the state or governor. Leonard also was a 2016 recipient of the Hoosier Jewish Legend honor, which is a Hall of Fame award from the Indiana Jewish Historical Society.

They also were longtime members of the Fortnightly Club in Fort Wayne, which provided an opportunity for husbands and wives to gather with other couples for “intellectual and social culture,” according to a December 2015 News-Sentinel story. One club member would present an essay on a topic, and then all would join in a discussion of the topic.


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