Irving S. Goldstein, 91, died on September 25, 2012 in Raleigh, NC. He was born on August 20, 1921 in Bronx, New York to Jacob and Jennie Rathsprecher Goldstein, naturalized Americans from Austria-Hungary.
Irving was a brilliant yet modest scientist. He cared deeply about his family and community, devoting his life to nurturing students, mentoring young scientists and guiding his family by his exemplary ethics and compassion. More than 30 years ago he began developing a process of converting waste paper, wood scraps and non-food plants into ethanol for fuel. Even during the sudden 24-hour illness that ended his life, he continued to be witty, sharp, and charming, cheerfully sharing his encyclopedic storehouse of knowledge on every topic and looking ahead to future activities.
He grew up in Monticello, NY and attended public schools there and in Florida where his parents spent winters, graduating from high school at 16. He received a B.S. in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY in 1941 and a M.S. in chemistry from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL in 1944.
He served on active duty in the United States Naval Reserve from 1942-1946, reaching the rank of Lieutenant. Among his assignments was serving as executive officer of a wooden minesweeper and commanding officer of a tug in the American and Pacific theatres of operations during WWII. He rode out two typhoons while delivering the tug to Okinawa, befitting his college nickname 'Lucky'.
On December 16, 1945 he married Lt.(jg) Helen Haft, USNR, in Lakewood, NJ, to whom he was married for more than 65 years until her death in 2010. During his wife's lengthy illness he fed her every meal and cared for her at home as long as he could.
In 1948 he received a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, where he was a teaching fellow. For the next 20 years he conducted industrial research at North American Rayon Corporation, Elizabethton, TN; as Manager of Wood Chemistry Research at Koppers Company, Pittsburgh, PA; as Senior Research Scientist at Nalco Chemical Company, Chicago, IL; and as Manager of Paper Research at Continental Can Company, Chicago, IL.
In 1968 he was appointed Professor of Forest Science at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. In 1971 he came to Raleigh as Professor and Department Head in Wood & Paper Science at North Carolina State University. He served as department head until 1978 and became professor emeritus in 1992. Among his many NCSU committee assignments were 11 years on the Research Committee (Chairman 1974-75) and 17 years on the Intellectual Property Committee.
A Fellow of the International Academy of Wood Science, he also belonged to the American Chemical Society (Chairman Cellulose, Paper and Textiles Division 1982), American Association for the Advancement of Science, Forest Products Society, Society of Wood Science and Technology, Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry, and Sigma Xi (President NCSU Chapter 1982-83). He served as a consultant to over 30 industrial organizations and U.S. government and international agencies. In 1982 he was a Visiting Professor at State University of Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
His major research interests were the treatment of wood for resistance to decay, insects and marine borers, chemicals, fire, and dimensional changes; chemical utilization of wood, lignin, and bark; pulping, bleaching, and papermaking. His work resulted in over 150 publications, including 17 patents and three books. In 1991 he received the Alvin J. Huss Award of the American Paper Institute for the application of chemical principles to improve the technology of the conversion of cellulose to ethanol.
In 1992 he had a quadruple bypass and was gratified that chemistry provided the drugs that kept atrial fibrillation in check. He referred to his gait disorder as reminding him of his experiences as a drunken sailor and navigated confidently using an REI mountaineering pole.
In 2010 he reconnected via Facebook with his widowed college sweetheart, Bess Hormats, and became truly Lucky to enjoy rekindling their relationship after 70 years, as though they had never been separated. He visited her monthly in DC by Amtrak for a week's stay, and they talked via Google Hangout every afternoon. He had another phone date scheduled with her the afternoon he died.
In addition to his wife Helen, his son Jared Haft Goldstein, M.D. of Asheboro, NC, predeceased him. Surviving are his daughter Ardath Goldstein Weaver and son-in-law Reagan Hale Weaver of Raleigh; daughter Darra Goldstein Crawford and son-in-law Dean Adams Crawford of Williamstown, MA. Other survivors include five grandchildren: Seth Goldstein M.D. and wife Lee of Baltimore, MD; Anna Goldstein and husband Kyle Broaders of Berkeley, CA; Jacob Ma-Weaver and wife Annie Ma-Weaver of San Francisco, CA; Janna Clare Weaver and Nika Cyrus of New York, NY; and Leila Crawford of Dublin, Ireland; great grandchildren Jared and Ava Goldstein; his adoring grand-dog Brie, and the many friends of his children and grandchildren who also knew him as Grandpa and who he cherished as his own.
Private burial in Raleigh Hebrew Cemetery. Arrangements by Brown-Wynne Funeral Homes.
To honor Grandpa's memory, please consider voting for Barack Obama as he was looking forward to doing on November 6. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Irving S. and Helen Haft Goldstein Graduate Fellowship in Wood Chemistry, Department of Bioforest Materials, Box 8005, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8005; or to the Irving S. and Helen Haft Goldstein Fund at the D. H. Hill Library, North Carolina State University, Box 7111, Raleigh, NC 27695-7111; or to the Jared Haft Goldstein Memorial Lecture Fund at Duke University, Office of Gift Records, PO Box 90581, Durham, NC 27708; or to the Jared Haft Goldstein M.D. Medical Collection, Randolph Public Library, 201 Worth Street, Asheboro, NC 27203.