Isaac Dvoretzky, ’48, ’50, ’52

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I am the Centennial Historian of Rice University. This means, among other things, that every day when I go to work I am surrounded by people who are smarter than I am. Isaac Dvoretzky was also smarter than I am, in fact dramatically so, but his intelligence was of an unusual kind. He was a brilliant student, an accomplished chemist and so on, but the combination of his lived experience and his lifelong intimacy with the Torah gave him something beyond the grasp of most of us. His intelligence was sharp indeed but it was tempered by a deep warmth of human understanding and a generosity of spirit that made every hour spent with him a gift. He was a teacher and a learner, honest in his inquiry into the past and always hopeful for better things to come.

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Isaac Dvoretzky was incandescent. He gave off light. What a privilege to have known him.

Bonus: Here is a link to a lovely obituary. And wanting to hear his voice again I went and found his remarks on the occasion of his acceptance of the ARA Meritorious Service Award in 2003:

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4 Responses to Isaac Dvoretzky, ’48, ’50, ’52

  1. Doug Williams says:

    I was fortunate enough to be at the 2003 ARA Honors Dinner. What is missing from his typed remarks is how his voice broke during that last paragraph as he almost wasn’t able to finish. It was a very moving acceptance.

  2. marmer01 says:

    I would not be so quick to assume that you are surrounded by people who are smarter than you are.

  3. Robert Cargill says:

    Dear Melissa,

    The sad new of Isaac’s passing on Feb 18 hit me hard. I met Isaac when I was an undergraduate, but got to know and admire him as we served on the Chemistry Visiting Committee (1988-1998).I was chair of the committee. No man has ever made the impression on me that Isaac did. Yes, he was an intellectual giant, a scholar, a lover of music; but most important, he was a real gentleman. His gentle wisdom will seldom be witnessed again. Yours, Bob Cargill

    On Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 3:10 PM, Rice History Corner wrote:

    > Melissa Kean posted: ” I am the Centennial Historian of Rice University. > This means, among other things, that every day when I go to work I am > surrounded by people who are smarter than I am. Isaac Dvoretsky was also > smarter than I am, in fact dramatically so, but his intell” >

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