by Chuck Johnson, President and CEO
Presenting the Ruby Lee Piester Adoption Award to Mr. Lou Stern and Mrs. Carol Stern in 2015 at National Council For Adoption's 35th Anniversary Great Expectations Gala
More than 36 years ago Louis “Lou” Stern was asked by Ruby Lee Piester to join the board of what would become National Council For Adoption (NCFA). From the very first meeting in a hotel near a Dallas, Texas airport, he served continuously on NCFA’s Board until his death Wednesday following a brief illness, including a sum of 13 years as Board Chair. In my last conversation with him Tuesday afternoon, his thoughts were still focused on NCFA as he urged us to continue working on behalf of children and families, even after he was gone. Mr. Stern (I always called him “Mr. Stern” despite his protestations to call him “Lou”) has been a guiding force and fierce advocate for NCFA from his first day of service to his final hours on earth. It seems strange to me that I won’t be able to call him for his advice or ask him a question about something that happened years ago. (He had an amazing memory!) All of us at NCFA treasure having known him and acknowledge his great legacy of service. Our deepest sympathies to his family.
Mr. Stern served on our Board of Directors continuously for the past 37 years, serving as Chairman five times, for a total of 13 years. He was passionate about making a difference for all members of the adoption triad, and his insight into the evolving state of adoption has been invaluable over the years. In honor of our 30th anniversary, he said of his work with NCFA, “I feel so fortunate, and so grateful for all the people I’ve gotten to know and work with in this wonderful organization. It’s been a real thrill to participate in all the work we’ve done.”
Mr. Stern is the only person to have received all three of NCFA’s highest honors. He received the Friend of Adoption Award in 1987 and the Adoption Hall of Fame Award in 2000 in recognition of his service on the Board of Directors. In 2015, he and his wife Carol were presented with NCFA’s most prestigious award—the Ruby Lee Piester Adoption Award—as a token of our appreciation for their lifetime of service to children and families.
Memorial services are planned for February 12th in Broomall, Pennsylvania. For more details, visit his obituary here. Mr. Stern’s family has requested that contributions be made in his memory to National Council For Adoption.