Add Penn State researcher Herschel Leibowitz to long list of York countians who excelled in research
Dr. Herschel Leibowitz, who grew up in York, died recently. Here, a graduate student and Leibowitz (right) test a laser system Leibowitz developed to measure a person’s dark focus, the point at which an eye focuses at night. Also of interest: Pennsylvanian Daniel Drawbaugh: ‘The Edison of the Cumberland Valley’ and All York celebrities posts from the start and Area native shares Nobel for Medicine.
“Herschel W. Leibowitz, a Penn State University psychologist who was among the first scientists to explore how the mind can misinterpret what the eye sees at night, a phenomenon that contributes to traffic accidents, died on Sunday in State College, Pa. He was 85.”
So began the New York Times obituary about Dr. Leibowitz, a York native.
He is one of a long number of York County natives or former residents who have accomplished much in the field of research:
A sampling of others:
– Few know it, but digital computing’s first pioneer George Stibitz was born in York, Pa.
– York, Pa.-born Edwin Shneidman, suicide prevention pioneer, dies in Los Angeles.
– Author with York County ties: Learned the brain inside and out in writing ‘How We Decide’
– Who was Phineas Davis of York City school fame?.
– Who was Edgar Fahs Smith of York City middle school fame?
Here is the York Daily Record/Sunday News story on Dr. Leibowitz’s life and death (2/19/11):
Herschel Weldon Leibowitz’ father, Lewis, owned a shoe store in York.
The Fair and Square shoe store was in competition with the M&L store, run by Lewis’ brother Mose. In the 1950s, the stores merged.
“They sold everyday shoes,” said Allen Dameshek, who was in the shoe business back then. “They were in competition with Mahlon Haines.”
Herschel was a tall young man; he stood 6-foot-5. He was Lewis and Nettie (Wolfson) Leibowitz’ only child. Ivan Kranich remembers the whole family was tall.
Kranich also remembers Herschel Leibowitz, who would later conduct groundbreaking psychological research, was “a smart kid.”
“I didn’t know him well,” Kranich said. “He was a year or so younger than me.”
Herschel left York to attend the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1948 after serving two years in the U.S. Army. He earned his doctorate from Columbia University. Except for some visits when his parents were still living, he never came back to York. He taught at the University of Wisconsin and worked for IBM. He joined the faculty of Penn State University in 1962 and had lived in State College until his death Sunday at age 85.
“He spoke about York all the time,” his granddaughter, Amy Milgrub Marshall, said. “He was very proud to have grown up in York.”
And York should be proud of him.
He was a pioneer in his field, psychology. He was among the first scientists to explore how the mind can misinterpret what the eye sees at night, a phenomenon that contributes to traffic accidents, The New York Times reported. Roads are well lighted and marked with reflectors now mostly because of his work, according to the Times. He also researched how visual perception contributes such wide-ranging topics as car-train accidents and falls suffered by elderly people.
Much of his work was related to how the mind processes visual information. His daughter said she recalled him telling her, when she was a child, about the rods and cones that make up the retina.
“I once drew a picture of the cones as ice cream cones,” she said. “He liked that.”
During his academic career, he published some 250 scholarly articles and a book, “Visual Perception.” He collaborated on research well into his 60s.
He is survived by his wife, Eileen; a daughter, Marjorie Leibowitz Milgrub of State College; a son, Michael, of Charleston, S.C.; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
– All York Town Square posts from the start. Then use “find” function on browser to search for keywords.
– Of course, you can always search for York Town Square posts on Google. For example, when you search for yorktownsquare and York celebrities, you get this.
Photo courtesy of Penn State information.