In appreciation: Arthur Poulten, a Touro Fraternal Association legend

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Arthur Poulten, a true giant in Touro Fraternal Association history, left a lasting legacy as the former chairman of the board of directors for 12 years. 

Poulten, who passed away on April 1 at the age of 82, is remembered fondly as the board chairman who oversaw a period of great transition for the Jewish men’s fraternal organization.  

He was elected chairman in 1989 at a time when Touro was acquiring its present home on Rolfe Street in Cranston, and he remained chair until 2001. As chairman emeritus, he retained a voting seat on the Touro board of directors and continued to provide guidance and wisdom to his fellow directors.

He was particularly proud that Touro celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017-18. Although he was unable to attend the Centennial Gala in September 2017, he penned a letter that was read by Jed Brandes, current board chairman.

“Arthur was the ultimate ambassador for Touro,” recalled Brandes. “He recruited many of the current brothers as members, and several officers and board members served in those positions at Arthur’s insistence.”

Brandes had kept in close contact with Poulten, even after he relocated from Cranston to Burlington, Mass. in 2011. Arthur and his wife, Beverly, had moved in order to be nearer to their son David, daughter-in-law Winnie and granddaughter Sabrina. After decades in leadership positions at Touro, as well as other area organizations, being away from the action left a void in his life. But Arthur did his best to remain involved, reviewing meeting minutes, crafting press releases and offering insights.

“He was always available by telephone with a kind word of encouragement,” Brandes continued. “He offered me timely advice borne of many years of service at the helm. I will miss his friendship.”

He also served as a mentor to Robert Miller, who succeeded him as chairman of the board.

“Arthur was the consummate organizational professional who contributed so much to Touro’s success,” said Miller, who served as the board vice chairman throughout most of Poulten’s tenure as chairman.  “He understood the necessities of a men’s fraternal association and what it took to make it function. Quite simply, he knew how to get things done.”

Poulten worked closely with Miller, who chaired the Building Committee, in spearheading the effort to obtain the former U.S. Post Office as Touro’s home.

In Touro’s Centennial publication, Poulten reminisced about the importance of obtaining Touro’s home.

“Finding a permanent home changed everything for us,” he said. “We were a vagabond organization, but now we had a home. This allowed us to become much more of a professional organization.  Without a true home, we were more of a social organization.  Now we were able to host events like having monthly speakers, and we focused on being much more community-minded and charitable.”

As he looked back at his 55 years as a member, Poulten recalled that he served as president of the association for the 50th anniversary commemoration and was the chairman of the board for the 75th anniversary.

“Although he was unable to attend the 100th celebration, I’m thrilled that Arthur lived to see Touro reach such a significant milestone,” added Miller, the former board chairman. “He was an integral part of many of those 100 years, and left Touro in a much better place. Arthur will be tremendously missed.”

For more information about Touro Fraternal Association visit www.tourofraternal.org, email to info@tourofraternal.org or call 401-785-0066.

LARRY BERMAN is a member of Touro Fraternal Association.