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Annual Newsletter: Vol. VIII April 2006

 

In Memoriam :

Arthur Furst, Ph.D. Fellow, ATS
December 25, 1914 – December 1, 2005


It is with great sadness that I report the death of Arthur Furst, toxicologist and educator and dear friend, on December 1, 2005. A founding member of the American College of Toxicology (ACT), Dr. Furst was truly a father of toxicology and mentor of the Society. He was preceded in death by his wife, Florence. He is survived by his sister Yetta Hyman and brother Harold Furst, children Carolyn Smith, Adrianne Furst, David Michael Furst and Timothy Daniel Furst, grandsons Brandon Donald Smith and Kevin Michael Smith, and great-granddaughters Caitlin Marie Smith and Olivia Florence Smith.

In addition to all of the achievements cited below, Art made unique and pivotal contributions to ACT. These are more fully described in the “Introduction” to a special issue on the toxicology of heavy metals, which was dedicated to him on the occasion of his 75th birthday (JACT, 1989, 8:1229-1230), and in comments made regarding the history of the ACT [Int. J. Toxicol. 23(5):285-299] and the history of the journal of the ACT [Int. J. Toxicol. 23(5):281-284]. A founding member of the ACT, he served as the first Secretary, and in 1986, was awarded its highest honor, Fellow Membership status, an award recognizing his continual service to the Society, in addition to his contributions to the field of toxicology. Dr. Furst was active in the organization of the Journal of the American College of Toxociology, identified its Founding Editor, served as an invaluable Associate Editor from 1982 until 2002, and continued to review manuscripts until his death. His personal funding made it possible for the ACT office to purchase its first computer. In 1986, he funded and founded the Furst Award, to be given to the pre- or postdoctoral fellow presenting the best research paper at each annual ACT meeting, and personally attended.

Art was the epitome of the self-made person and devoted husband and father. Born in Minneapolis, MI, on December 25, 1914, he was orphaned at the age of four, after which he was reared in orphanages and by relatives until he entered college. He began as a psychology major at City College of Los Angeles, and later transferred to the University of California (UCLA) as a chemistry major, where he took an A.B. in chemistry with minors in mathematics, physics, and psychology, and an M.A. in chemistry with minors in mathematics and education. He also studied modern dance and seriously considered a career in dance, a talent he continued to pursue and share until recently through his interest in teaching folk dancing.

He married Florence Wolovith in 1940, and on the same day, obtained a position teaching chemistry at San Francisco City College. During World War II, he was “frozen’ in a teaching post in which he taught chemistry at City College of San Francisco, University of San Francisco, University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco State College, commuting to at least three of these institutions in any given semester. After the war, he chose to stay at the University of San Francisco, and while still teaching, he obtained a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1948 from Standford University. In 1983, he received a D.Sc. (Honoris Causa) from the University of San Francisco.

Dr. Furst taught chemistry at San Francisco City College and the University of San Francisco, and pharmacology at Stanford School of Medicine. He founded and directed the Institute of Chemical Biology at USF and retired from USF as Distinguished University Professor in 1980, after having served 4 years as Dean of the Graduate Division. He continued to supervise graduate students and consult on toxicology for various industries and government agencies until his death.

Dr. Furst contributed over 300 articles to professional and scholarly journals. He is the author of Chemistry of Chelation in Cancer (1963), The Toxicologist as Expert Witness (1977) and 151 Myths in Everyday Science (2004) and was writing a book on the toxicology of metals at the time of his death just short of his 91st birthday.

He was a Member of 17 professional societies and Fellow of 6, including the American College of Toxicology (President in 1985; Associate Editor of Journal, 1982-2002). He was a Life Member of professional honor societies Sigma Xi, Phi Lambda Upsilon and Alpha Sigma Nu. He received of numerous (8) professional awards including: Professional Achievement award from the UCLA Alumni Association in 1992; Lifetime Contribution Award from the American College of Toxicology (first time ever given) and Lifetime Recognition Award from the Society of Toxicology (first time ever awarded).

Dr. Furst endowed awards at UCLA and USF, an annual ethics lecture at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology and established 3 memorial funds and student loan funds in the name of his wife and family. An undergraduate scholarship at USF and an annual health lecture at Stanford have been endowed in his honor by GNLD International.

Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of your choice. The family suggested that donations be made to the Arthur Furst Award, which is presented to the student who presents the Best Paper at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Toxicology, (www.actox.org).

I have included a few photos of Art and two personal notes, the first sent October 1, 2001, and the second sent February 15, 2005.

October 1, 2001 –
Dear Mildred:
Thanks for your nice e-mail note. If luck is with me, I expect to be at the next ACT meetings (He was).

They tell me I had a "massive" stroke; but who believes the doctors. Within 5 days, none of them could find any decrement in my actions or speech. The paralysis just went away; my speech came back; the neurologist said that I was faster than he was in the interpretations of some of his tests. So what? I must take it a bit easier--very hard to do.”

February 15, 2005 –
Dear Mildred:
Thank you for keeping me informed on the activities of the ATS. I will miss the ACT and SOT meetings this year. Should your travels bring you to the San Francisco Bay Area, let me know.

I have to adjust to being 90 years. I can no longer kick over my head as I could when I was 80!”

To Art, with fond memories of the many years of friendship, projects worked on together and dances,

Mildred S. Christian, Ph.D., Fellow, ATS
Founding Editor, JACT (now IJT)

Dr. Furst