On Alaska Cruise in 2006
Nat Lehrman
  • 84 years old
  • Date of birth: Aug 5, 1929
  • Place of birth:
    New York, New York, United States
  • Date of passing: Feb 11, 2014
  • Place of passing:
    Sarasota, Florida, United States
"Home is the sailor, home from the sea."

We created this website so that our Dad's friends, relatives and acquaintances can share condolences, stories, roasts, whatever about the incomparable Nat Lehrman. (Tributes can be added below; photos can be added to the Gallery tab above; and longer stories to the Stories tab above.). We look forward to reading your contributions. See the Stories tab above for several articles written by my Dad. They capture some of his wit and sense of humor.

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Margery Shurberg on 5th August 2016

"I not only think of him, I "see" him, and Kaz, right next to Mom's condo #202, on their way to and from tennis or dinner. Funny, kind, prescient. We valued their friendship. The world lost something important, but our hearts remember. Love, Marge and daughter Judy"

This tribute was added by Jerry Lehrman on 12th March 2015

"So many little things happen to remind me of my Dad, from the foods he loved to the guitar music he played.  Today a fly in my dining room reminded me of him.  One of his war cries when we were kids was "There's a fly in the house!!"  The family then would immediately mobilize with our fly swatters and swarm the trespasser.  I hope Dad wasn't reincarnated as a fly --- because I stayed true to his tradition and swatted him!"

This tribute was added by Margery Shurberg on 11th February 2015

"Mother and I think of Nat and Kaz often. I can see them in my mind's eye walking back into their condo from a tennis game, and can see Mom and Kaz deep in conversation in her living room. .... I use the handmade ceramic dish Kaz made and gave me every day and think of how talented she was, and look at the beautiful origami swan that mom has alongside the other pieces she treasures. And I hear others in the building talk about how much they miss them. Gone, but most certainly NOT forgotten. With love, Marge Shurberg and Judy Gee"

This tribute was added by Joy Bozzelli on 20th December 2014

"Jerome, I came across your father's obituary today, which also led me to this site. I vaguely remember your dad from our days at Brennemann. I am sorry to hear of his passing and the loss you and your family must still feel all these months later. As you and I approach our 57th birthdays (yes, I still remember that we share that date, along with James Wagner), may you continue to draw strength from such a strong family bond you had with your dad."

This tribute was added by Saul Lapidus on 6th August 2014

"Nat…When we meet again, my life will be enhanced……….saul"

This tribute was added by Margery Shurberg on 5th August 2014

"Mom and I think of Nat and Kaz often. They were wonderful friends and neighbors. His memory is a blessing ..."

This tribute was added by Jerry Lehrman on 1st June 2014

"From Janet Adelman Bunn

As a recent college graduate in the mid-70s armed with a degree in English, I returned to my hometown of Chicago with little idea of what I was going to do next. I was working at Stuart Brent Books while trying to sort out my options and figure out if I could afford film or journalist school when a frequent customer--an NPR host--informed me that Oui Magazine was hiring. I called Oui, mentioned my referral to Nat's secretary and was able to get an interview with him. Nat requested that I bring writing samples, preferably something dealing with sexuality. So, after looking through my non-sexy collection of college English papers, I was elated to find one that I thought would be perfect: a graduate seminar final on "Comedy and Sexuality in the Narcissus Chapter of (Joyce's) Ulysses" for which I had received an A+. When I met with Nat and proudly showed him the paper, he smiled broadly, chuckled and with almost parental kindness said: "That's not what I had in mind."

While I wasn't going to get hired at Oui, Nat, nonetheless, mentioned that there might be a position at Playboy and referred me to the Interview editor, G. Barry Golson. I ended up working as an Editorial Assistant at Playboy for five years and from there went on to work for Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Company, parent company of MTV, Nickelodeon and The Movie Channel and then Showtime. I would have never gotten the interview with W.A.S.E.C. without my tenure at Playboy and I would never have worked at Playboy were it not for Nat's referral.

I ran into Nat years later and spoke with him briefly, but I don't think I ever thanked him for his role in shaping my career. I wish I had, but I'm certain he knows how many people's lives he touched."

This tribute was added by Fred Tarter on 3rd March 2014

"Please accept my condolences on the passing of a very dear friend of nearly 60 years. I met Nat long before Playboy, in the days of Dude and Gent and Reilly Publishing, around 1962 or so. Nat was a giant and a great mentor. Over the years, the world got to understand how important he really was. While many years passed and we never really were in contact, his direction so long ago has meant so much to me. Please understand how many lives he touched and how important he was to so many.
Kindest regards, Fred B. Tarter (ftarter@lakesideglobal.com)"

This tribute was added by joel krosnick on 2nd March 2014

"Nat and his beloved wife Kaz were an indelible part of my life, during the many years in which the Juilliard Quartet played many concerts in Chicago.  Their home was my home in Chicago.  Sharing conversation with Nat about everything under the sun was one of the great privileges of my life.  His warmth, humor, and grasp of the important things in life will remain an unforgettable memory.  The music, food, tennis, and just funny details of life that we shared are all better because he was there.  I will remember and miss him always."

This tribute was added by Deirdre Frees on 26th February 2014

"I heard the news from Brennemann classmate, Burton Levy. I remember Mr. Lehrman from my days at Brennemann with Jerry. He came into our class (maybe first or second grade?) and spoke about being a journalist, introducing us to "the 5 Ws and How". Obviously, he left quite an impression, as I remember it nearly 50 years later. My thoughts will be with you in the days ahead. Deirdre (Sullivan) Frees"

This tribute was added by Bonnie Robinson on 24th February 2014

"I am so very sad to hear of Nat's passing. During my time at PLAYBOY, I had the pleasure of knowing his humor, wit and endless kindness. Even after he left PLAYBOY and went to Columbia, I remained sporadically in touch as I had moved to California. He was truly genuine and unique man that I know will be missed by many; especiallly those, who like me, were touched in my heart. RIP, Nat!"

This tribute was added by George Saunders on 20th February 2014

"I met Nat when he moved to Chicago to go to work for Playboy more than fifty years ago.  We became close friends almost instantly and remained so until the day he died.  Nat was one-of-a-kind – a streetwise kid from New York with a brilliant mind, a wonderful sense of humor and a real love for life.  Nat had many talents, but the one I admired most was his ability to express complex ideas in simple, comprehensive language that not only got his point across but also made reading the article he was working on a real pleasure.  I got to witness how he went about this process when he asked me to help him edit an article on the Supreme Court – a subject on which I was supposed to have some expertise.  Over a period of about two weeks of hard work --during which Nat would take what I wrote, cut it and turn it into plain English-- I learned more about how to write than I was ever able to contribute to the process in substantive expertise.  
I will miss Nat very much.  My wife, Terry, and I had visited Nat in Florida on several occasions and had intended to make another visit this Spring.  Sadly, Nat will not be there to greet us."

This tribute was added by Michael Laurence on 17th February 2014

"Nat Lehrman occupied a very special place in my life--as a colleague, a mentor, a boss and a friend. I joined the Playboy editorial staff in the summer of 1963, a few months after Nat. I was young, right out of college. Despite our profoundly different backgrounds, Nat and I  got along well from the beginning. We worked the next 20-odd years together in different roles and relationships, first at Playboy, then at Oui, finally at corporate Playboy. I reported to Nat for a lot of that time and it was ultimately his lot to fire me. But that was not his fault (nor mine!) and it didn’t stand between us thereafter.

Looking back over a long career in journalism, I regard Nat Lehrman as the best boss I ever had. In addition to being well read and super smart, he was firm, fair and funny, a wonderful combination--and he was an excellent judge of people. When contemplating new hires, there were lots of us who felt more secure if Nat was part of the interviewing process.

He and I were having lunch at the Ontario House in Chicago when the news came out that President Kennedy had been shot. Also at the table were Shelly Wax, Murray Fisher and Jack Sharkey.  They’re all gone now; I’m the last man standing.

Good bye, old friend, you are missed."

This tribute was added by N S Lehrman on 17th February 2014

"From Nucky and Emily

We loved Nat over the many, many  years that we were fortunate in
knowing him,and following his career with deep interest and respect.
Our first close contact with him was in 1948 when we were planning our trip to Kansas on Nucky's army orders.  We visited Nat at the AAA
office where he was then working and he organized our trip so that it
became an adventure instead of a chore.

In 1966, when we were coming home from our cross-country trip with our children, he and his wonderful wife, Koz, gave us a royal welcome when we stopped at their home in Chicago. There were many other happy meetings over the years,  The last time we saw Nat was at the party Peppy gave for her 101st birthday at a fancy Chinese restaurant,
where we had the pleasure of meeting Jean, Nat's faithful companion of his later years.

The coincidence of Nat's and Nucky's names (outside the family, Nucky is called Nat) produced some comical incidents. Nucky's nubile young secretary, who had typed some of his articles on sex, exclaimed to him, on seeing Nat's name on the Playboy masthead, "You do that too?" Well, no, but the "other Nat Lehrman," as Nat liked to identify
himself when he called here, did many things, from writing thoughtul
articles for Playboy to teaching journalism to inner city kids at
Chicago's Columbia College.

We will miss Nat - an outstanding human being and a good friend."

This tribute was added by steve crescenzo on 16th February 2014

"Nat was the head of the journalism department at Columbia when I showed up there. He took me under his wing, teaching me not just about journalism but a heck of a lot about life, too. A great man . . . who always had time for me, even though I was a one of hundreds of students and he was the head of the department. I can't imagine how many lives he influenced over the years, so while he may have passed on, his legacy will be forever."

This tribute was added by Margery Shurberg on 15th February 2014

"Some of my dearest memories of your dad are the years when we were neighbors at Eagles Point. The stories about his editorship of Playboy and his encounters with your mother's life and his life with her with her all over the years revealed all the wonderful characteristics that he embodied. I enjoyed meeting all of the family and will never forget him and Kaz."

This tribute was added by jamie sweadner on 14th February 2014

"I met Nat last year when I visited my dear friend and Nat's companion, Jean. I found Nat to be charming, engaging, funny and oh, the stories he could tell! We had two lovely visits and I thoroughly enjoyed his company. Such a gracious gentlemen. Devoted to Jean, his children and grandchildren. His passing will leave a void in many hearts, but I think everyone is richer for knowing Nat. Godspeed on your journey."

This tribute was added by Saul Lapidus on 13th February 2014

"Nat lived in the condo above me in The Landings. We discovered that we had a lot in common. Humor, Brooklyn, Tennis, many people from the porn industry, etc. He would ask me to fix things in his condo. He claimed to be a 'Jewish Intellectual' who did not know which side of the screwdriver to use. He said he would trade me for my handy work. He would give me his intellectual and publishing talents. I Told him that I had  5 books published. We both laughed,had some wine and  became good and dear friends. I'll miss him.
Saul lapidus"

This tribute was added by Thea Flaum on 13th February 2014

"Nat was extraordinary.  Savvy, witty, smart--insightful and honest in his views of people and the world.   No conversation with Nat was ever boring or mundane. I was always happy to see him at parties and events because it meant we'd have a chance to talk.  A rare and special person, I was lucky to have known him."

This tribute was added by Marvin Lehrman on 13th February 2014

"Everybody that knew Nat always thought he was a wonderful guy, but to me, he was so much more than that - As a kid, he was my mentor, my teacher, my coach, my protector, my adviser, and the best big brother anyone could possibly ask for.

     He turned me on to great literature, classical, jazz, folk music, foreign films, and many other things; and best of all, the Marx Brothers and Abbot and Costello.

    He taught me to do funny routines when I could barely talk, with him being my straight man. Sometimes he would say, "Hey Marvin, is that a banana in your ear?" And I answered, "I can't hear you, I have a banana in my ear."

    We laughed our way through my childhood.

    He shared of himself generously and unstintingly.

    He brightly illuminated everywhere he went.

    I'll be 77 soon, but I will fondly think of myself as Nat's "little bro" (as he affectionately called me) until the day I die.

    Here's lookin' at you, Big Bro."

This tribute was added by John Tosarello on 12th February 2014

"Nat,
You are/were such an inspiration...I loved your insights to life...your humor...kindness and respect for people and their opinions even if opposing yours...God Sped My Good Friend...see you on the other side...tell Kos Hello...John Tosarello"

This tribute was added by Esther Heitler on 12th February 2014

"I always found Nat such a warmhearted and likable man. One of my best memories is of playing and singing folksongs with my father and Nat as we sang for the "old people" at Plymouth Harbor.
Love from Jim and Esther Heitler"

This tribute was added by Ben Mayne on 12th February 2014

"My Friend Nutka

From the moment I met him I instantly liked him.  What was not to like. He had this quiet dry sense of humor that would crack me up.  I once accused him of being the guy who wrote the playmate’s “I love fuzzy puppies and walks on the beach.”  He denied this, but did confess to occasionally writing in the playboy forum, which explains why there are so many sexually screwed up people in our generation!

For a long time we were like the four stooges, Nat, Saul, Jules and Ben.  Three Jews and the goy.  They decided at one point that I should convert, so they gave me a bar
mitzvah.  Instead of a fountain pen, as is custom, I got a ball point pen purloined from a Holiday Inn.  They thought that very funny.

As a snow bird I kept in touch by email over the summer.  I bought a book of common yiddish insults to add to every email and Nat would return them with my grammar corrected.    When Saul and I decided that the Landings needed a real newspaper, we conned Nutka into being both our editor and publisher.  One article he helped me with was about a recurring dream I had.  I was standing on a train platform with Saul in Tel Aviv and Nat turns to me and says, “Pardon me goy, is that the Be er Sheva choo choo?”  I reply, “Yes, track twenty nine”, and then I run out to buy Glen Miller records.  He thought, no he really knew, we were nuts, but helped us as long as we didn’t tell anyone he was involved.

Nat loved tennis, but wasn’t exactly Roger Federer.  We had a couples group that played once a week and poor Kaz never quite knew where or what Nat was going to do.   It was as much fun watching her shake her head and roll her eyes as it was to play the game.  They were a great couple and I think fondly of those good times.

Spiritually I’m a dualist.  Body and soul are two distinct entities.  It’s like living in and then vacating a house.  The house may crumble, but the soul lives on. I will miss Nat, but know in my heart that somewhere out there two kind and gentle souls have once again found one another.

Ben Mayne"

This tribute was added by Barbara Nellis on 11th February 2014

"In 1970 at 25, I came to Playboy, to work in college marketing and met Nat almost immediately.  We struck up a friendship.  He told me he'd look around editorial for something for me to do.  I had no idea what I wanted to do--or be--but I could see all the interesting people were in editorial and I was an English major, so I wanted to be there, too.  Six months into my job, I got fired one morning (those were some awful people in college marketing--Mike Kaplan and Steve Beyer), and while I was sitting at my desk weeping, the phone rang.  It was Nat.  He had a job for me doing research for feature stories for the editors.  He mentored me from then until I got my editorial sea legs.  He saw something in me before I did.  He was a great friend.  We had that East Coast back story in common. I have tried, all the 40 plus years since then, to mentor others and find in them, what they cannot see yet in themselves.  A lovely man.  I will miss him.  My early Playboy years were very special."

This tribute was added by gary cole on 11th February 2014

"I worked with and for Nat for many years at Playboy. I knew him when he was an editor and I knew him when he became a bigwig publisher. He was the same guy in both roles...smart, funny, always ready with a quick retort (wisecrack). I have many memories of him but two that I think he especially enjoyed. Once on a Continental flight from Chicago to O'Hare, in the days when the company flew us first class, one of the stewardesses (that's what they were then) spilled a drink on Nat's shoulder. It was a pretty good spill and for a moment, Nat lost his temper, looking up to give the stew a bit of a glare. Fortunately, she was a buxom lass who quickly bent over to cuddle Nat's head on her chest and apologize. Nat's glare turned into the biggest s...eating smile, a moment we all enjoyed almost as much as he did. And then there was the time...when he was publisher....when I had to meet him downstairs from the office in the Playboy Club...for a drink and to talk over some difficult business problems. It was a very serious conversation. In fact, I was afraid I was about to be fired. In the middle of the conversation, Nat suddenly jumped up, saying he had to go to the john. And he did. He went straight into the women's bathroom...without for a moment realizing what he had done. I fell on the floor laughing, literally. He came out a few minutes later with a smile not dissimilar from the one on the airplane. And we both laughed until we were in tears. By the way, I didn't get canned. Although I haven't seen Nat in many years, I'll miss him just the same."

This tribute was added by Leonard Lehrman on 11th February 2014

"Very, very sad to learn of the passing of one of our favorite cousins.
Will send word to the whole Lehrman family from my email account - lehrmanfamilyreunion@gmail.com - later today.  
I know my parents have many photos, and we all have many stories
to be shared.
Much love - Leonard (& Helene) Lehrman"


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Jerry Lehrman

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