Kenneth A. Preston

PrestonKenneth A. Preston, 89, on January 22, 2021, peacefully at home in San Francisco, Calif., surrounded by family. Born Hans Albert Pressburger on April 21, 1931, in Stuttgart, Germany, Ken was the only child of Joseph Pressburger and Trude Wertheimer Pressburger. The family narrowly escaped the Holocaust, fleeing to the United States and arriving by boat at Ellis Island in April 1941. They settled in New York City and struggled to make ends meet. In 1945, they changed their last name from Pressburger to Preston.

Ken attended public schools in the Bronx and earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University in 1950 after only two and a half years of study. He was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War in 1951 and received an honorable discharge two years later. In 1950, using restitution money from the German government, his parents started J.A. Preston Corporation, a company that sold rehabilitation equipment to doctors’ offices and hospitals. Ken took over the business after his father died in 1961, and was president until he sold the company in 1988. Under his leadership, J.A. Preston Corporation grew from a small family business to an international sales and manufacturing company with partnerships in Canada, Japan, and Korea.

Ken met his wife, Linda Rothchild, on a ferry to Fire Island in May 1961. They married the following year and soon moved to Greenwich Village in New York City, where they raised their three children, Alan, Leslie, and Dean. Ken and Linda were married 47 years, until her death in 2009.

After selling the family business, Ken found a second career in teaching and consulting. He loved applying his success in business to teaching and mentoring students at the New York University Stern School of Business. He was a consultant for small business startups as a longtime volunteer with the Executive Service Corps and the Small Business Administration.

In 1969, Ken became an active member of the Religious Society of Friends, joining Fifteenth Street Meeting in New York City. He was drawn to Quakers by their commitment to pacifism, social concerns, advocacy for Jews in the Holocaust, and practice of silent worship.

Ken volunteered for decades on numerous nonprofit boards and donated generously to education, arts, housing, cancer research, and disability rights organizations.

In 2008, Ken and Linda moved to San Francisco to be closer to their children. Ken began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, but retired soon thereafter to care for Linda after she became ill. They transferred membership to Berkeley (Calif.) Meeting on July 12, 2009. Linda died in August 2009, and Ken found comfort in attending Berkeley Meeting.

Ken was predeceased by his wife, Linda Rothchild Preston; and daughter, Leslie Preston. He is survived by two children, Alan Preston (Cecilia Kingman) and Dean Preston (Jenckyn Goosby); Alan’s former wife, Pramila Jayapal; and five grandchildren.

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