Engel, Ruben William

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July 10, 1912 – January 18, 2007 Dr. Ruben W. (Charlie) Engel, 94, of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and formerly of Blacksburg, Virginia, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on Thursday, January 18, 2007. Dr. Engel was born on July 10, 1912, in Shawano, Wisconsin, the last of eight children.

Dr. Engel received his Ph.B. in 1937 and his Ph.D. in 1939 from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a Certificate Military Government, U.S. Army, Princeton University, 1944. From 1939 to 1943 and from 1946 to 1952 he was an Associate Professor of Animal Nutrition at Auburn University.

From 1943 to 1946 he served in the US Army as an officer in the Army Sanitation Corps in the Pacific Theater and saw combat in the Pacific during the Okinawa campaign for which he received the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with one Bronze Star. He also received the American Campaign Medal, Victory Medal World War II, and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon Armed Forces Western Pacific. He subsequently joined the US Army Reserves and retired as a Lt. Colonel, Medical Service Corps.

In 1952 Dr. Engel was recruited to Virginia Tech to create a Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, where he served as Chairman and Professor. The Department numbered 12 faculty and more than 40 graduate students when in 1966 he assumed the position of Associate Dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Dr. Engel was largely responsible for acquiring a grant from the National Institutes of Health that, with matching state funds, resulted in the construction in 1962 of the building that has borne his name since 1989, Engel Hall. Research during this time focused on solving the nature of X-disease in cattle.

From 1968 until 1980, Dr. Engel lived in Manila, Philippines, where he served as Virginia Tech’s onsite advisor to the Philippine National Nutrition Program. He supervised the introduction of the Mother Center concept developed at Virginia Tech. In the Centers malnourished children were fed adequate diets prepared from indigenous foods while their mothers were trained in food selection and preparation, infant care, sanitation, and family planning. This program eventually reached more than 3.5 million Filipinos.

A second major accomplishment during this era was the evolution of the Nutribun as a means of effective delivery of wheat and dried milk in the Food for Peace program. In recognition of these accomplishments, Dr. Engel was awarded the Conrad Elvehjem Award for Public Service by the American Institute of Nutrition in 1974 and was elected a Fellow of this organization in 1984.

Upon his retirement in 1978, he was selected by Gamma Sigma Delta, the Honor Society of Agriculture, to receive the International Award of Distinguished Service to Agriculture. Dr. Engel’s contributions to human and animal nutrition and cancer research span the horizon of basic research, teaching, and service to his state, nation, and the world.

He authored more than 100 publications dealing with nutrition and choline metabolism. Dr. Engel’s societies and memberships included: American Institute of Nutrition, Secretary 1954, 1957; President 1965-66; U.S. Delegate IUNS 1960 and 1963; Society of Sigma Xi, Virginia Tech President, 1961; Food and Nutrition Board: National Academy of Science; American Chemical Society; American Dairy Science Association; Kiwanis International, Auburn, Alabama, President 1952; Rotary Club, Blacksburg, Virginia; and life member, VFW, Post 7447, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Dr. Engel was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 57 years, Frances Holiday Engel. He is survived by his daughters and sons-in-law, Nancy and Col. Matthew J. Barlow, Jr., US Army MC, Ret. of Rehoboth Beach, and Bonnie and Jim Hupton of Henderson, Nevada; and his son and daughter-in-law, BG William F. Engel, US Army, Ret. and his wife, Linda, of Alexandria, Virginia. He is also survived by eight grandchildren and their spouses, Karyn and Robin Farley, Laura and Scott Thigpen, Kathy and Joseph Litto, Julie and Josh Gonzalez, Lisa and Ash Sawkar, Ben Engel, Tiffany Engel, and John Hupton; and 12 great-grandchildren, Emma and William Farley, Katie, Jackson, Alexa, and Erica Thigpen, Sarah and Andrew Litto, Avery and Reese Gonzalez, and Deven and Neel Sawkar.

Dr. Engel enjoyed challenging crossword puzzles, Internet surfing, traveling, history, knitting, fishing, and spending time with his family. He had a passion for golf, and at age 92 scored his second hole-in-one on Hole 3, 135 yards at Marsh Island Golf Club, Delaware.

Friends of the family may visit at the Barlow home, the Glade, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Saturday, January 20, 2007 from 2 to 4 p.m. The family plans a memorial service on the Virginia Tech Campus in April. The family requests that in lieu of flowers contributions be sent to the R. W. and Frances H. Engel Scholarship Fund. Checks should be made payable to the Virginia Tech Foundation with “Engel Scholarship Fund” at the bottom and sent to the Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va. 24061.

Arrangements are being handled by Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium. Send online condolences to: condolences@parsellfuneralhomes.com.