Nathan “Nate” Lury, who served on the Board of Directors of Touro Fraternal Association for 42 years and was the long-time chairman of the House Committee, passed away on June 1 at the age of 94.
Nate was a 55-year member of Touro, having been initiated in April 1966. He was presented a plaque at a lodge meeting in October 2018 to commemorate his retirement from the board. He was also honored at an “Old Timers Night” in 2013.
“It is impossible for me to tell you how much Touro and the brotherhood has meant to me,” Nate said that evening in 2013. “Through good times and not so good, my brothers are there for me, as I am for them, sharing laughter, love and pain. But through it all, we created some great and special memories.”
After Touro moved into its hall in Rolfe Square in Cranston in 1989, Nate oversaw the House operations for decades. The kitchen especially carried his imprint, according to Chairman Emeritus Bob Miller.
“Nate was responsible for the upkeep of the entire hall and always made sure everything was clean and neat and that all problems were immediately addressed,” said Miller. “But keeping a kosher kitchen was his pride and joy. He labeled all the cabinets for meat and dairy and made sure all the food was up to date. You’d walk into the kitchen and you’d immediately see ‘the Nate effect.’ If he wasn’t going to be there, he’d leave notes for us to make sure the food was prepared the right way.”
Nate always pitched in, whether it was boiling the water for the hot dogs and beans, handling the cooking, or setting up for the steak fry that he and Miller established.
He was described by his Touro brothers as the “King of the Kitchen.”
“While working on the Centennial project several years ago, we came across films of past Touro events. One showed Nate at the beginning of his long career manning the Touro kitchen at our former hall on Niagara Street,” said Chairman Emeritus Alan Lury, Nate’s cousin. “When I joined Touro thirty years later, new members were expected to volunteer for kitchen cleanup duty. I remember a number of Wednesday evenings working under the direction of Natie, as our family called him, and his sidekick Rodney Locke, washing pots and pans, making sure I did not mix up meat from the dairy. His presence will be missed, but the memories of his service to Touro will never be forgotten.”
Chairman Stevan Labush remembered when he first joined Touro more nearly 30 years ago, the brothers cooked the meals for the lodge meetings and Nate was in charge. “He was very detail oriented and extremely organized,” recalled Labush.
His giant presence was felt even beyond his work in the kitchen.
“For the brothers who rose through the leadership ranks with me, Nate was like a surrogate grandfather,” said Chairman Emeritus Jed Brandes. “Worldly in his knowledge of all things Touro, he was eager to share and encouraged growth. He was also ready to knock you down a notch when it was called for, especially if you transgressed in his domain, the kitchen. But mostly, he was a mensch, unconditionally ready to support his brothers, for the betterment of the association. Even as he loved Touro, he was universally loved by his brothers.”
It was different era when Nate joined Touro in 1966. He talked about those fun times at the “Old Timers Night.”
“A group of my close friends wanted to sponsor me and I was quickly hooked,” he said. “At our old hall on Niagara Street in the heart of South Providence, we had pool tables, ping pong, poker games and great meetings with well-known speakers. We also had infamous smokers – but we never did get raided. Maybe it helped that a few Providence cops were there too!”
When Touro left Niagara Street in the early 1970s, there were many years spent without a permanent hall. Nate explained that he would drag the pots and pans to cook kosher dinners at several locations like Vasa Hall.
Nate waxed nostalgic at the “Old Timers Night,” mentioning such bygone close friends and former board members like Joe Engle, Marshall Bornstein, Arthur Poulten, Leo Greenberg, Sy Chorney, Ben Rabinowitz and Jerry Hodosh.
“I hope you will take a minute to remember and thank the senior brothers that built Touro to the high level we are at today,” he stated in 2013.
Now it is time, in his honor, to remember the legacy of Nate Lury.
He is survived by a daughter, Gail Lury Wax, and her husband Dr. Frederick Wax of Plymouth, Mass. and Boynton Beach, Fla., and a son, Steven Lury, and his wife Michele, of Jupiter, Fla, and a grandchild, Morgan Lury.
Nate lived in Warwick, having previously resided in both Cranston and Providence. He was a World War II Army veteran, serving in the European Theatre. He was a salesman at My Bread Baking Co./Sunbeam Bread in Warwick for 33 years, retiring in 1989. Following his retirement, Nate worked part-time for Shalom Memorial Chapel.
Nate was a former member and past board member of Temple Beth-Shalom and Temple Torat Yisrael. He was also a member of the Jewish War Veterans, Post 23
A graveside funeral service will be held this Sunday, June 6, at 10:00 a.m. at Lincoln Park in Warwick. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Shalom Memorial Chapel. Donations may be made in Nate’s memory to the Touro Scholarship Fund, PO Box 3562, Cranston, RI 02910 or to Hope Health & Hospice, 1085 North Main Street, Providence 02904.