Philanthropist Paul Soros, innovator in shipping, dies at age of 87

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 June, 2013, 5:32am


Paul Soros  1926-2013

Philanthropist Paul Soros, a successful innovator in shipping and the older brother of billionaire financier George Soros, has died in New York after a long bout with a host of illnesses, his son Peter Soros said. He was 87.

Soros, an engineer, founded Soros Associates, a world leader in the design and development of bulk handling and port facilities. The company operates in 91 countries. Soros also held a number of patents and wrote more than 100 technical articles on the transport of materials and related shipping design issues.

"His genius, which was really reflected in his work, was really a function of seeing what everyone was seeing and finding new ways to solve interesting problems," Peter Soros said.

Soros drew on his immigrant biography in establishing with his wife the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans in 1997. The foundation's US$75 million endowment funds graduate education for immigrants and the children of immigrants.

Soros was born Paul Schwartz in Hungary in 1926. His father changed the family name to Soros a decade later, in response to growing anti-Semitism.

Soros was a talented athlete who skied for the Hungarian national team. "He was quite a good athlete and very much the gentleman athlete," said Peter Soros, noting his father broke his leg a number of times and lost a kidney in a skiing accident. "He had a competitive spirit." But an injury kept him from competing in the 1948 Olympics, and that year he immigrated to the US.

He won a scholarship to St Lawrence University in northern New York in exchange for coaching the school's ski team and later earned a graduate degree from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University in New York City.

"He was very elegant, very gentle, very astute," Peter Soros said. "He was incredibly widely read, very up on all forms of history and, you know, a very good companion and a very good conversationalist."

Soros met his wife, who had also fled Hungary, at International House in New York. They married in 1951 and had two sons, Jeffrey and Peter. Soros was four years older than his brother, George. Though his politics were progressive, he did not share George's political activism, Peter Soros said. Soros is survived by his wife, brother, two sons, a daughter-in-law, four grandchildren and a step-granddaughter.