Lester Eber, who worked for more than six decades in the wine and liquor industry, much of that time representing the former family-owned Eber Brothers Wine & Liquor distribution company in Rochester, died April 5 from complications of COVID-19. He was 82.
Several groups affiliated with the industry have posted tributes to Mr. Eber upon learning of his death, as he was a familiar face across New York and Connecticut.
“If you asked anyone in New York state government that had any involvement in our industry, they knew Lester because Lester was tireless. He regularly traveled all across New York to get the job done, and it was always with a kind word,” read a tribute shared by the Metropolitan Package Store Association.
Sam Filler, executive director of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, said in a weekly newsletter that Mr. Eber “always treated me with kindness and generosity even though I often was on the opposite side of public policy debates from him. We even had a plan to play tennis together sometime this spring.”
Mr. Eber lived his entire life in the Rochester area, graduating from The Harley School and later the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Upon completing his degree at Wharton in 1959, he began working for his father at Eber Brothers, eventually taking over leadership of the company.
In his later years, Eber continued to work as a lobbyist in Albany for Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, the company that bought his family’s business in 2007.
The son of the late Evelyn and Allen Eber, Mr. Eber is survived by his wife, Ellen, son David, daughter Wendy (Eric), and five grandchildren. Sisters Mildred Boslov and Sally Kleeberg predeceased him.
An active golfer, tennis player and swimmer, Mr. Eber was also a fan of basketball and the Buffalo Bills football team. He served for many years on a number of Rochester boards of directors, including those for Rochester Management, The Jewish Home, and Allendale Columbia school.
Because of health restrictions due to the pandemic, no calling hours nor public funeral were held; the family may schedule a memorial service at a later date. Memorial donations may be made to Strong Memorial Hospital, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
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