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Obituaries

Chemistry professor Kurt Schreiber inspired students to excel

| Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011

Students with the reputation of being a "Schreiber Survivor" in chemistry at Duquesne University enjoyed an enhanced chance of success in the field.

Kurt Schreiber was a committed teacher and a valuable resource to the members of the American Chemical Society and Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, his son said.

"My father would hold sessions at Duquesne University, where Junior Academy members could conduct hands-on experiments in the chemistry labs," said Emanuel Schreiber, himself a chemist.

Kurt C. Schreiber of Squirrel Hill, professor emeritus in chemistry at Duquesne University, died on Monday, Oct. 24, 2011, in UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland. He was 89.

"Dad also traveled to various area high schools where he held classes for teachers interested in teaching chemistry," said Schreiber of Squirrel Hill.

Reaching for the top rung in his career didn't come easy for Mr. Schrieber. At 16, he was urged by his parents, Morris and Jessie Schreiber, to leave their home in Vienna following Kristallnacht -- "The Night of Broken Glass" -- when the Nazis ransacked Jewish homes and businesses.

"He lived for a short time in London until the Horwitz brothers, who operated a dry goods store and food factory in New York City, sponsored him and brought him to the United States, where they had him working for them while going to school to learn the English language," his son said.

In the ensuing years, Mr. Schreiber received his GED diploma and his undergraduate degree from City College of New York. He served his country in an Army mortar battalion and was used as a German language interpreter during World War II.

Following his discharge from the Army, Mr. Schreiber, with the help of the GI Bill, received his master's degree and doctorate in chemistry from Columbia University in New York City.

In the years following his arrival in Squirrel Hill with his young wife, Lillian, whom he had just married in Los Angeles, he became active in B'Nai Brith and the Young Peoples Synagogue and served as a Boy Scout troop leader.

"My father was a kind and compassionate man who was always ready to lend a helping hand, whether it was in the classrooms or in the homes of those who were experiencing difficult times," said his son.

"And although my father was strict with us, he encouraged us to enjoy whatever career we sought, especially when our careers had an impact on a community."

In addition to his wife, Lillian Berger Schreiber, and son, Emanuel, Mr. Schreiber is survived by a daughter, Celia Anne Schreiber of Raleigh, N.C., and son, Samuel H. Schreiber of Irvine, Calif.; and five grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Ralph Schugar Chapel Inc., 5509 Centre Ave., Shadyside. Visitation will be one hour prior to services. Interment will be in Beth Shalom Cemetery.

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