Arthur Poulten, a true giant in Touro Fraternal Association history who served as chairman of the Board of Directors for 12 years, has passed away at the age of 82.
He died on April 1, 2018 at Lahey Medical Center in Burlington, Mass. After living in Cranston for 50 years, he moved to Burlington in 2011 with his wife Beverly to be near their son David, daughter-in-law Winnie and granddaughter Sabrina. Arthur and Beverly were married for 59 years.
Arthur was elected chairman in 1989 at a time when Touro was acquiring its present home on Rolfe Street in Cranston and held the post until 2001. As chairman emeritus, he continued as a voting member on the Touro board.
He was particularly proud that Touro was celebrating its 100th anniversary. Although he was unable to attend the Centennial Gala in September 2017, he penned a letter that was read by Jed Brandes, the current board chairman.
“Arthur was the ultimate ambassador for Touro,” said Brandes. “He recruited many of the current brothers as members, and several officers and board members served in those positions at Arthur’s insistence!”
In the past five years as chairman, Brandes has kept in close contact with Arthur.
“He was always available with a kind word of encouragement,” Brandes continued. “He offered me timely advice borne of many years of service at the helm. I will miss his friendship.”
Arthur also served as a mentor to Bob Miller, who succeeded him as chairman of the board.
“I am deeply saddened by Arthur’s passing. He was the consummate organizational professional who contributed so much to Touro’s success,” said Miller, who served as the board vice chairman throughout most of Arthur’s tenure as chairman. “He understood the necessities of a men’s fraternal association and what it took to make it function. Quite simply, he knew how to get things done.”
Arthur worked closely with Miller, who chaired the Building Committee, in spearheading the effort to obtain the former U.S. Post Office, which built a new site next door.
In a story written for Touro’s Centennial publication, Arthur reminisced about the importance of obtaining Touro’s home.
“Finding a permanent home changed everything for us,” he said. “We were very much a vagabond organization, but now we had a home. This allowed us to become much more of a professional organization. Without a true home, we were more of a social organization. Now we were able to host events like having monthly speakers and we focused on being much more community-minded and charitable. This gave us a new focus.”
Arthur said he was most proud of the fact that Touro’s funds swelled by four times the amount during his 12 years as chair. Other accomplishments he cited during his tenure were doubling the mortuary benefits and tripling the sick benefits for members, while also doubling the amount of money devoted to interest-free student loans and scholarships for the children of members. Touro even debuted on the Internet near the end of his tenure.
“I am proud that I was able to get people to work together and we had many outstanding achievements,” Arthur said last year. “We had a great nucleus of guys who put in a lot of time and effort. I was able to get many members active and get stuff done, for which we received a lot of recognition in the community.”
As he looked back fondly at his 55 years as a member, he recalled that he served as president of the association for the 50th anniversary commemoration and was the chairman of the board for the 75th anniversary. Also under Arthur’s watch as the board chairman in 1990, Touro created two separate lodges, Harmony and Friendship, to meet tax obligations.
His most special memories, he said, revolved around board meetings, both those he chaired and many he participated in as a board member.
“We had some heated meetings with shouting matches at times. But by the end of meetings, the guys were always joking and there were no hard feelings,” he recalled fondly.
In addition to his incredible devotion to Touro, Arthur was also deeply involved in many other religious and civic endeavors. He was the past president of the former Temple Am David, a past board member of the Chesed Shel Amess Association, a past board member of the Providence Hebrew Free Loan Association, and a past president of the Rhode Island Advertising Club,
His leadership abilities were evident as a student at Classical High School in Providence and then at Boston University, when he served as past president of the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity.
He enjoyed a long career in the fields of media, advertising, marketing and public relations. Among the companies he worked for included Quality Factory Outlets in Fall River, and Roitman & Sons, Joseph Maxfield Company and Bo Bernstein & Company, all of Providence. He was also a news correspondent for United Press International in Boston and Hartford.
With Touro Fraternal Association, he left a legacy that will live on for generations.