Beloved teacher, family man, and friend
Beloved former Boston teacher Ojinna “OJ” Lansana of Newton, died of a cerebral hemorrhage on June 21, 2021. He was 71.
OJ, born Louis Shine, grew up in Boston’s South End. He experienced racial violence and other traumas that could have embittered him. He chose to be kind.
After English High School, OJ attended Brandeis University’s Transitional Year Program, graduating Brandeis in 1976. He went on to teach for the Boston Public Schools for 35 years, 28 of them at Boston Latin Academy. With a unique mix of jokes, riddles, and stories, hilariously arcane rules, deep discussions, empathy, and thousands of Trader Joe’s maple cookie rewards, he captivated a generation of students. (One assignment was to write scripts for soap operas of the Greek gods.) In a retirement tribute, a former student and later BLA colleague wrote, “Aside from Ancient History, you taught us to examine the motives of our leaders, to not blindly follow but to respond with informed decision making. All these years later, I strive to live up to your expectations.”
OJ loved his wife and laughed at her jokes, as she did at his. He was a deeply involved father to his son, a surrogate father to his son’s friends, girlfriends, and ex-girlfriends, and an indulgent grandfather. He was a devoted son, generous uncle, and lifelong big brother to his four siblings. He connected-–with neighbors, basketball teammates, water aerobics classmates, the FedEx guy, his dog, and strangers in countries whose languages he didn’t speak. He overtipped extravagantly. His heart and hand were open to all.
In his last two years, dementia dimmed OJ’s light, but not his spirit. He adapted with grace. Unable to drive anymore, he was proudly taking the bus to the Y when he collapsed.
OJ leaves his wife Judith Levine; son Solomon Lansana (Stephanie Rivera); mother, Rosetta Shine; brother Melvin Shine (Pamela); sisters Gloria Clifton and Darlean Bell (David and Tyrone); grandsons E’lon, Senn, and Solomon, Jr.; and a host of in-laws, nieces, and nephews. He is predeceased by his father, Cornelius Shine, and brother Cornelius, Jr. An announcement of his memorial celebration is forthcoming. The family welcomes donations to the Boston Latin Academy Association or the New Georgia Project in OJ’s memory. To leave a tribute or note, search "Ojinna Lansana" on http://legacy.com