Former Phillipines Regional Director Stephen Lenton dies at 60

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, September 24, 2001 - 10:31 am: Edit Post

Former Phillipines Regional Director Stephen Lenton dies at 60



Former Phillipines Regional Director Stephen Lenton dies at 60

Former Phillipines Regional Director Stephen Lenton dies at 60

Sep 21, 2001 - Richmond Times-Dispatch Author(s): Chris Dovi

In the early 1980s, Dr. Stephen M. Lenton, a mental health counselor, placed himself on the front lines in a fight against a new and deadly disease rearing its head among many of his clients.

"This was before many therapists would even deal with patients with AIDS," said Dr. Lenton's friend and business partner, Kathy Benham.

So it was a message of cruel irony that Dr. Lenton brought home after a visit to the doctor in 1996. He had full-blown AIDS and had just a few months to live.

"He came up and said, `I've got some good news and some bad news,'" remembered Benham. "He said `The bad news is I've got six months to live. The good news is we've got a lot of living to do between now and then.'"

Benham chuckled as she remembered one of her friend's first acts after receiving his grim prognosis six years ago. Within days, she said, "He went out and came home with two dogs. He firmly believed in living in the present," she said.

Dr. Lenton, a native of California and a longtime Richmond resident, died Saturday. Co-founder of Commonwealth Professional Services, a counseling service, and a recently ordained deacon at Richmond's Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Dr. Lenton was 60 years old.

AIDS counseling was not the only personal crusade Dr. Lenton, a devout Catholic, shouldered during his career.

As a fresh graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, he served as the Peace Corps' Philippines regional director. He was the youngest to hold the title of director at the time, and his commitment to the people he worked for continued long after he returned to the United States. He was awarded that country's President's Medallion for Heroism.

Dr. Lenton also served many years as a member and was a past chairman of the cathedral's pastoral council. He was an original member of the church's Sexual Minorities Task Force and chairman of the Diocesan AIDS Task Force and its HIV, prison and Haitian ministries. He was awarded Bishop Walter Sullivan's Lay Disciple Recognition Award for his dedication.

Dr. Lenton worked with emotionally disturbed children at the Psychiatric Institute of Richmond before co-founding Commonwealth Professional Services in the late 1970s.

Dr. Lenton is survived by two brothers, Vincent and Dane Lenton.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Friday at 7 p.m.



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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Philippines; Obituaries; Special Interests - Country Directors

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