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Morton Deustch, Class of 1935
After Morton Deutsch learned that Lydia Shapiro was sunbathing along the Charles River in Boston when she was supposed to be interviewing subjects for his sociological experiment, he resorted to a conventional means of resolving a workplace dispute: He abruptly fired her.
A little more than a year later, though, he took a more creative and constructive approach to repairing their frayed relationship: They became fully cooperative partners, husband and wife.
“I have accused Lydia of marrying me to get even, but she asserts it was pure masochism,” Professor Deutsch wryly recalled.
After completing his experiment in graduate school, Professor Deutsch, who died on March 13, 2017 in Manhattan at 97, perfected his formula for reconciliation to become a leading expert on conflict resolution and mediation.
He not only remained married for nearly seven decades, he also co-wrote a prescriptive book titled “Preventing World War III” (1962).
Whatever credit he might have deserved for thwarting another global military conflict, Professor Deutsch’s principles provided a theoretical framework for various Cold War negotiations, for court decisions that voided legally sanctioned racial segregation in the United States, and for Poland’s peaceful transition from Communist rule in 1989.
He served on the faculty at Teachers College of Columbia University from 1963 until he became professor emeritus in 1990. There he founded the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (since renamed for him), which he ran until 1997.
“The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice,” which he edited in 2006 with Peter T. Coleman and Eric C. Marcus, became a standard manual for dealing with labor, commercial, international and marital disputes.
John T. Jost, a social psychologist at New York University, wrote in 2006 in the journal Social Justice Research that “in what is probably Deutsch’s most influential book, ‘The Resolution of Conflict’ (1973), he summarized the lessons of his first 25 years of research on, among other things, cooperation and conflict.”
“The point is that social forms are self-fulfilling, so that coercion, intimidation, deception, distrust and hostility are both causes and effects of competition, whereas assistance, openness, information sharing, perceived similarity, and friendliness are both causes and effects of cooperation,” Professor Jost wrote.
Morton Deutsch was born on Feb. 4, 1920, in the Bronx to Charles and Ida Deutsch, Jewish immigrants from what is now Poland. His father was a butter and egg wholesaler.
Raised in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, he read Freud and Marx when he was 10, graduated from Townsend Harris Hall and entered City College when he was 15 planning to become a psychiatrist.
“I became disenchanted with the idea of being a pre-med student after dissecting a pig in a biology lab,” he recalled. “I was happy to switch to a psychology major.”
He received a bachelor of science degree from City College in 1939 and a master’s from the University of Pennsylvania.
“I grew up in a time when, as a Jew, I experienced many instances of prejudice, blatant as well as subtle, and could observe the gross acts of injustice being suffered by blacks,” he recalled in 1999 in an essay in “Reflections on 100 Years of Experimental Social Psychology.”
He did not merely observe. He contributed lunch money to the Spanish Loyalists in the 1930s; organized a protest against the quality of high school cafeteria food and a strike by fellow waiters at a summer resort during college; challenged what he considered racist statements by a professor; and, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, enlisted in the Army Air Forces and flew 30 missions as a navigator over Nazi-occupied Europe.
“Being in World War II and experiencing the devastation and horror of war, even though I felt the war against the Nazis was justified, I became interested in prevention of war,” Professor Deutsch told Teachers College Today magazine in 2009.
It was at M.I.T., where he earned his doctorate on the G.I. Bill, where he also met his wife, Ms. Shapiro, who survives him and confirmed his death, along with their sons, Nick and Tony; four grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.
It was also at M.I.T. where he became a disciple of Kurt Lewin, the German-American psychologist, whose favorite dictum was, “There’s nothing so practical as a good theory.”
Professor Deutsch’s postgraduate studies in the late 1940s were heavily influenced by the atomic bombings of Japan, followed by the formation of the United Nations. His doctoral dissertation was the basis for his theory of cooperation and competition, which postulated that a group’s success depends on the extent to which its members believe their goals are shared and see a potential to make common cause.
He had in mind the United Nation’s Security Council, he said, when “I had an image of them either cooperating or competing and had different senses of what the consequences would be for the world.”
But the same rules applied for confrontations big and small, and, since he fired Ms. Shapiro, his researcher at M.I.T., Professor Deutsch said there were plenty of occasions to practice what he preached.
“In our 60 years of marriage,” he said, “I have had splendid opportunities to study conflict as a participant observer.”
Courtesy: New York Times, March 21, 2017.
Judson Kinberg, Class of 1942
Judson Kinberg passed away of natural causes on November 2, 2016, at the age of 91. Born in New York on July 4, 1925, Kinberg was a decorated war hero in World War II, earning a Purple Heart and Silver Star. He had a long and fruitful career as a writer and producer of film and television, ranging from live television in "The Seven Lively Arts" to writing and producing episodes of iconic shows "Quincy M.E." and television miniseries like "Kane And Abel" and "To Catch A Killer". He came out to Hollywood during the Studio Era, and was the apprentice and eventual producer for legendary John Houseman, working on films such as "Executive Suite" and "Julius Caesar" starring Marlon Brando. He also wrote and/or produced films ranging from "Lust For Life" to "The Collector," "The Magus," and cult horror film "Vampire Circus." He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Best Drama Series, and a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture. He was eventually a Professor of Film and Television at University of Southern California. He is survived by his wife Dr. Monica Menell Kinberg, his three sons Steven, Simon, and Robert, grandsons Toby and Oliver, and their mother Mali Kinberg.
Published in The New York Times on Nov. 8, 2016.
Dr. Samuel Brendler, Class of 1938
On September 28th 2016, Samuel Jacob Brendler MD of Suffield completed his rich and remarkable life. His family, his friends and his colleagues treasured his integrity and curiosity, his kindness and patience. He embraced new adventures with enthusiasm, good humor and joy.
For over 50 years he was the best friend and partner of Heinke Brendler (née Traulsen). Together they traveled the world, hiking across England, kayaking the length of the Connecticut River, and researching his ancestors in the Ukraine, Brooklyn and Queens. He encouraged his children and grandchildren with love and counsel and was the center and role model for his large extended family who looked to him as an example of a good life well lived.
His enthusiastic embrace of life will be greatly missed by Heinke, his children Elizabeth Brendler and Chet Blackman, Katherine Brendler and Ed Lutz, Victoria Brendler and Dan McIntire, Matthias Brendler and Suzanna Schlemm, and Thomas Brendler and Lucinda Hitchcock. His grandchildren Phoebe, Violet, and Lila brought much joy and energy into his life. His seven nieces and nephews—in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Illinois—will also be deeply saddened to see him gone.
He was born March 24th, 1922 in New York City to the physician Charles Brendler and his wife Frances Glaser, and lived on the ground floor apartment at the corner of 93rd Street and Park Avenue. His aunts spoke only Yiddish. He was bar mitzvahed, but soon after he met with the rabbi and cantor to inform them politely that he had no intention of practicing the faith. To their credit, they respected his decision. But he retained its values of questioning, curiosity, and the importance of family for his entire life.
He owned a small sailboat that crisscrossed Long Island Sound and later Fisher's Island Sound throughout the 1970s and 1980s with him and his family aboard, with everyone taking a turn at the tiller.He was interested in photography from a young age, taking dozens of staged self-portraits in a variety of disguises, and setting up a makeshift darkroom in his parents' bathroom. (In the 1970s he and Heinke created a more elaborate version in their basement as they together pursued this passion.)
He was a young teenager during the Great Depression, and took advantage of the WPA's massive investment in the arts to explore his fascination with theater design, lighting and makeup, for a brief time assisting Martha Graham at the 92nd Street Y. He saw Orson Welles famously perform as Othello. His passion for the arts endured throughout his life. He loved opera (attending several Met productions every year) and also Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Peter Sellers, Sherlock Holmes, Marian Anderson, and countless others. He played harmonica, and sang campfire songs.
He was not known for his cooking skills, but once brewed delectable imaginary hot chocolate on a wooded hillside in the early 1970s. He was deft with a sterno camp stove, and singlehandedly preserved and perfected the dying art of the ice cream soda.
He was a tireless reader, immersing himself in lengthy works such as Ulysses, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, the New Testament, and most recently A People's History of the United States. A lifelong student, he attended night classes in accounting and statistics, and nearly exhausted the inventory of The Teaching Company.
While serving in the Army (where he achieved the rank of Major) he took correspondence courses in German and Russian.He smoked a pipe, joyfully (alternately Edgeworth and Balkan Sobranie). He drank only on holidays, and you could tell. He loved chocolate. (If he were writing this, he would say that a few more times.).
He was a quintessential early adopter of technology. His first car was a Model A Ford. He was one of the first to buy a Radio Shack TRS-80 personal computer, a calculator watch, a digital camera, and a folding kayak. Then of course there was exercise. He was among the first to take up jogging when it burst upon the American suburban scene in the 1970s, bringing his routine inside after once slipping on the ice, running up and down the stairs before breakfast, with a knapsack filled with barbells. Exercise played to his love of routines, and approached it as if he were his own scientific subject, speaking of his muscles, ligaments, and circulation as elements in a perpetual experiment.
He claimed to be unsentimental but was betrayed by small tells, like the construction paper chessboard his children made for him which he kept in the top drawer of his closet for decades.
He attended the prestigious Townshend Harris High School at age 13. For several summers he journeyed with his family and others from his neighborhood to spend eight weeks at Camp Powhattan in southern Maine, which has since found a second life as Seeds of Peace Camp, an internationally-recognized conflict resolution program serving Arab and Israeli youths. At the age of 16, he entered New York University where he majored in English and French. He received his M.D. degree from the New York University College of Medicine in 1946, having been awarded membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society in his junior year.
After studying one year of neurophysiology at Yale Medical School, and a second year of physiology at the Montreal Neurological Institute, he trained from 1950 to 1953 as a neurological surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, only the second generation of the specialty in the field of neurosurgery. He had wanted to be a doctor since he was 12.
He taught and practiced neurosurgery at Tufts University College of Medicine and Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston for the next 17 years, interrupted only by a two-year assignment as an Army Major and Assistant Chief of Neurosurgery at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C.
In 1970 he moved with his family to western Massachusetts where he established a private practice in neurosurgery at Holyoke Hospital. During these 16 years, he served several terms as president of the medical staff. Upon retiring from neurosurgery, he was appointed Medical Director of Holyoke Hospital, the first such full-time supervisory appointment for a medical professional in western Massachusetts. When he retired for a second time a decade later, he consulted to administrative judges of the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents.
During his retirement he also served as a teacher's assistant in the Springfield Public Schools, introducing young minds to the wonders of chemistry and physics. During his entire professional career he avoided publicity and recognition with unflagging determination. He often worked late, but always called to say when he was on his way. Most nights his family would wait on dinner until he arrived, and would walk down the street, to the last turn before their house, to search out the first glimmer of headlights.
A private family service will take place in Maine, and a public celebration of Sam's life will be held Saturday, November 12, 2016, 4:00 PM at The Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield, 245 Porter Lake Drive, Springfield, MA.
Donations in Sam's memory may be made to the library of your choice.
Reprinted from the Suffield Patch, October 24, 2016.
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