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Len Stein, St. Thomas Radio Pioneer, Has Died

Oct. 5, 2004 – Len Stein, 74, one of the pioneers in the territory's radio industry, died Monday in Bushnell, Fla. Stein and his wife, Josephine, moved from St. Thomas to Florida in 1996.
Stein was a man of wide-ranging energies. His larger-than-life personality wasn't confined to radio alone. That may have been his entree when he moved to the territory in 1959 with Josephine, but he soon became an integral part of the community.
The couple moved to St. Thomas from Guam when the radio station Stein worked for on Guam bought WSTA Radio on St. Thomas. Stein formed the group of investors that later bought WSTA in 1983 under the banner of Ottley Communications Corp.
An avid and determined sports enthusiast, he was one of the founding members of the V.I. Olympic Committee. Many will remember his WSTA "Sports of All Sorts" radio broadcasts. He had worked with the committee since the early 60's.
Friends from diverse sections of the community were saddened Tuesday at the news of Stein's death. The three Wheatley brothers – Henry, Rueben and the late Calvin – were steadfast friends over the years. Henry said Tuesday, "He was a wonderful friend, an interesting guy. He was truly a part of the community. And he was an astute political observer."
Stein wasn't only an observer. He got into the fray in the mid-60s, running for the Senate as an independent under the Victory 66 party banner.
"That's right, "said another old pal, Bill Quetel. "I was trying to remember that name. I think Junior Melchoir ran along with him then, too." Quetel, his wife Margaret and the Steins have been friends for more years than Quetel says he can remember.
"One of my funniest memories is when we all went to St. Barts for a few days, and, in those days, there was nothing to eat but fish," Quetel said. "Len hated fish, so after we left St. Barts, we stopped over in St. Martin in search of something else. When the waiter presented a menu with nothing but fish, Len said, 'Just bring me another bottle of champagne.'"
Addie Ottley, WSTA owner, recalled fond memories of Stein, who was his mentor. "Len is the guy that I stand at the shoulder of," he said Tuesday. "He helped me in college, and when I came back home, he offered me the assistant manager's job. What I know about radio, I learned from Len. I'm just saddened that he has passed."
Leonard Bonelli, who has been on the committee since the 60s, was very saddened at the news. He remembered Stein as a positive influence. "He was always interested in sports, always helped wherever he could," Bonelli said Tuesday, adding that he could not say more at this time.
Attorney Tom Bolt remembered Stein's personality in the Rotary organization, Rotary Club 2. "He was a Rotarian par excellence," Bolt said, "a formidable member of the club, always there to help." Stein, in fact, arranged for the Rotary Club to sponsor a scholarship for Ottley to attend college.
WSTA radio personality Lee Carle shared a wealth of memories. "I think Len's legacy would be the was one of the best radio salesmen in the Caribbean. You could ask anybody from Puerto Rico to the Eastern Caribbean, and he was well respected."
Carle said, "Len did a lot of fabulous things. He allowed Addie to do his morning show in Denmark, a live broadcast commemorative show, sort of a hands-across-the-sea thing. He brought me to Tortola for a live broadcast of the arrival of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip on the HMS Britannia. It was the first time an English monarch had visited the BVI in 200 years," Carle said.
"I remember marching with Len and Addie, and Gov. Alex Farrelly to Emancipation Garden where we were honored for our coverage of Hurricane Hugo," Carle said.
Stein's radio career wasn't limited to the Virgin Islands. He lived in the British Virgin Islands for awhile, where he had an interest in station Zed BVI. He also had an interest in St. Martin station PDJ2.
Bill Quetel's wife, Margaret, likely speaking for all Stein's friends, said Tuesday, "Len left because of his health, but his heart stayed in St. Thomas."
Stein had been in failing health for the past four years, living in a nursing home in Florida, his wife said Tuesday. He is survived by his wife Josephine; two sons, Harry and B.J.; and one daughter, Leah. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Veterans Cemetery in Bushnell, she said. There will be no memorial service on St. Thomas.

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