Charles Hurwitz died peacefully at the age of 106 years old on January 13, 2020 after a long fruitful life and brief illness.
Charles is survived by his four children; Richard Hurwitz (mm. Joanne), David Hurwitz (mm. Lynn), Laura Snyder (mm. Duane), and Cheryl Hurwitz, 6 grandchildren; Rebecca Norton, Debra Needham, Erin Snyder, Amanda Snyder, Jared Hurwitz, and Eliana Hurwitz, and three great grandchildren; Leah Norton, Liam Norton, and Juniper Snyder-Stares, as well as by numerous nieces and nephews with whom he shared a deep bond. He is predeceased by his wife of 45 years, Jean (Parker) Hurwitz, sister, Shirley Kornetsky, mother Stella (Buchman) Hurwitz and father, Solomon Hurwitz.
Charles was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on April 1, 1913 to Solomon and Stella (Buchman) Hurwitz, recent immigrants from a region now known as Belarus. Charles graduated from Springfield Classical High School in 1929 and from Massachusetts State College in 1934. He obtained a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. with a specialization in soil bacteriology from Ohio State University. He enlisted in the US Army in 1942 and was deployed to Manila from 1944- 1945. In 1950, while working as a Research Associate in New York City, he met and married Jean Parker. They moved first to Colonie and then to Albany, NY where they raised their family.
Dr. Hurwitz worked as a bacteriologist at the VA Hospital in Albany NY for 48 years. During this time, he co-authored over 65 scientific publications and served as Executive Secretary of the Research Committee. In addition, he taught as adjunct professor at two medical schools. Following the death of his wife, in 1995, Charles continued to work at the VA until 1998 when he moved to Houston, Tx to live with his son, Richard and daughter-in-law, Joanne. At the age of 85, when most people would have been well past the point of retirement, Charles continued to work, now as a volunteer in Richard and Joanne’s laboratory at Texas Children’s Hospital.
In addition to his scientific endeavors, Charles valued a physically active lifestyle. He was a passionate lifelong tennis player. Until the age of 104, he worked out at the Jewish Community Center gym and was featured in two human interest news stories. After his most recent illness, while eagerly participating in rehabilitation, he was thrilled to return to a regime on a treadmill and stationary bike. He loved the thought of working to grow stronger.
While Charles’s accomplishments were numerous, he also valued relationships. His family and friends will remember him as a warm, approachable, and kind-hearted man, one who always considered people’s feelings. He was proud of each of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and never failed to tell them so. He impressed on them the importance of education, critical thinking, and debate. His granddaughter, Eliana Hurwitz remembers, “He was always so interested to hear what was going on in my life and never doubted that I could do anything.”
Charles was a true lover of science with a passionate interest in the world around him. He began everyday by reading the newspaper at Richard and Joanne’s dining room table. Unlike so many older people who felt intimidated by innovation, he was excited by current trends in technology and by the expanding social role of women and others who had previously been marginalized. As the son of an immigrant, he well understood the danger of prejudice.
Charles was one of a kind. He approached everyday with vigor and curiosity. He was a man who valued intellect. He grew old in years, but never in spirit. He will be deeply missed by family, friends, and will continue to serve as an inspiration to us all.
A funeral service will be held on Sunday, January 19, 2019 at 11:00 am at Cemetery Chapel, Loudonville, NY. All are welcome to attend. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston 5601 S. Braeswood | Houston, TX 77096-3907 or HIAS.org
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