WESTFORD, MASS. (Aug. 24, 1:50 p.m. ET) — Rudolph Deanin, a mainstay at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell who was a professor of plastics engineering there for 41 years, died on Aug. 7 at Lowell General Hospital.
The long-time resident of Westford, Mass., was 90.
Deanin was 87 years old when he retired from teaching at the university in Lowell, Mass., in 2008. Deanin credited his contact students for his longevity, in a profile published in Plastics News when he entered the Plastics Hall of Fame in 2000.
“People ask me why I don't retire, and I tell them, I feel the age of the people I'm with. When I'm with retired people, I have nothing but aches and pains. When I'm with kids in their 20s, I feel as if I'm in my 20s. So even though they're aggravating, it's worth it,” he said.
Known for his gentle manner and dry wit, Deanin touched a large number of students throughout his career. The holder of 36 patents, he wrote 13 books and 313 technical papers.
Russell W. Ehlers, one of the founders of the Department of Plastics Engineering at the school in Lowell, hired Deanin in 1967 to teach in the popular bachelor's degree program. Two years later, Ehlers asked Deanin to start a graduate program — and he remained as its director until his retirement.
He worked in industry for two decades before becoming a college professor.
A chemist, he graduated from Cornell University in 1941, and then earned an advanced degree from the University of Illinois, where during World War II, he was involved in the urgent national program to develop synthetic rubber.
In 1947, he began working at Allied Chemical Corp. He left Allied in 1960 to become director of chemical research and development at DeBell & Richardson Corp., a major contract research and development house.
Deanin told Plastics News in his hall of fame story that his heart just wasn't in the private sector — especially when he was told to fire people.
At UMass Lowell, he helped build one of the world's best-known plastics engineering programs. A quiz every day became one of his trademark practices. “I couldn't face lecturing to an empty room, and so I decided a quiz a day would bring everybody in,” he recalled.
Deanin leaves his wife of 44 years, Joan, two daughters Nancy Deanin of New York and Alice Deanin of New Jersey, and three grandsons.
Rudy and Joan Deanin were frequent travelers to Switzerland. When they returned, the professor posted a detailed report outside of his office at UMass Lowell.
Expressions of sympathy in his memory may be made to the Rudolph Deanin Memorial Scholarship fund at the university.