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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

May 31, 2013
 
 
            SUBJECT:      Dr. Sigmund Schwimmer, ARS Hall of Fame Member,  Passes at Age 95
 
                     TO:      Albany Location Personnel
 
                 FROM:     Howard Q. Zhang
                                Center Director, WRRC


Last week I received sad news that Dr. Sigmund Schwimmer, a former WRRC employee and collaborator with the Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit, passed away on Friday, May 10, 2013.  Sigmund was 95 years old - born in September, 1917. Sigmund was among the first scientists at WRRC.  He followed enzyme scientists Dr. Arnold Balls and Dr. Hans Lineweaver from USDA/Beltsville to Western. His association with the USDA exceeds 75 years including his time in Washington D.C. and his collaborations.  He was often the first to ask questions at seminars and participated in the annual skit up until a few years ago. His first publication at Western was in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 1944. “Digestion of Raw Starch” with A. K. Balls. There are about 140 other items in his bibliography including contributions to Nature, Science, Food Science, Food Biochemistry, Phytochemistry, Plant Physiology, Cereal Chemistry, and Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

His seminal and still timely one thousand page book on "Food Enzymology" continues to help advance food science, and he was inducted to the ARS Hall of Fame in 2005 for his work in enzymology. His research significantly contributed to WRRC earning a National Historic Chemical Landmark Award from the American Chemical  Society based on his scientific advancements in Time & Temperature Tolerance studies of frozen food. He graciously allowed WRRC to display his Hall of Fame plaque in the West Annex Building.

Sigmund was known for his unfailing humor, his dedication to and love of science, doing whatever it took to further the knowledge that research brings, and for his vast collection of hats, of which he wore a different one daily.  Sigmund retired in 1975, but continued his affiliation with ARS as a Physical Science Collaborator until 2009.  He was very proud of his connection to the USDA and ARS. Sigmund is survived by his two daughters Susan and Elaine. Please share this message with anyone you know that would appreciate knowing of the loss of our friend and colleague Sigmund Schwimmer, 1917 – 2013.

The Agency has designated June 20, 2013 on which the American Flag will be flown at half-staff at all ARS locations. As well, Sigmund will be honored with a memorial display at the Hall of Fame ceremony this year together with other members who have passed away over the last year.



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Last Modified: 6/20/2013