Dr. Jerry Braunstein, age 91, passed away on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, in his Clinton, Tenn. home.
He was born in New York, N.Y., on Dec. 24, 1922 to the late Simon and Sarah Braunstein, who emigrated from the Ukraine. He grew up in Washington Heights with his brother, Herman Braunstein. After attending Townsend Harris High School (Class of 1938) and City College of New York (Class of 1942), he worked on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University.
After World War II, he pursued graduate education at Wesleyan University. He was elected a fellow in Sigma Xi, the Science Research Society. In 1951, he received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University in Quantum Chemistry. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington and then served as a professor at the University of Maine at Orono for twelve years.
Dr. Braunstein transitioned to a research position in physical chemistry at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; his research focused on thermodynamics and electrochemistry of molten salts. His group's work led to two patents and about 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He was co-editor of a series of books, "Advances in Molten Salt Chemistry," and was elected chair of a Gordon Research Conference on Molten Salts. He retired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory after over 23 years of service.
He was an opera aficionado. Over the past decades, he enjoyed operas in New York, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Santa Fe, New Orleans, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle, as well as Italy, France, England, and Germany. He had been a supernumerary (non-singing actor) in over a dozen Knoxville Opera productions-as a soldier, headwaiter, priest, and Roman nobleman. He served on the Board of the Knoxville Opera Guild, raising funds for the Opera Company for the last 10 years. He also served as co-director of the Middle and East Tennessee District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He taught courses on opera in the Continued Learning program at the community college in Oak Ridge.
Additionally, he was a member of the Jewish Congregation of Oak Ridge and a Hadassah Associate. He had served as the education chair on JCOR's Board.
His passion for music, love of learning, and fondness for his family were contagious and will outlive him.
He is survived by his wife, Catherine Vallet Braunstein; three sons and their wives, Arthur and Renske Braunstein, David and Carol Braunstein, and Michael and Lori Braunstein; one daughter and her husband, Sarah and Jeffrey Woulfin; and six grandchildren, Rachel and Leah Braunstein, Eva Kelley and Andrea Braunstein, Hannah Braunstein, and Tobias Woulfin.
A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, Sept. 19, 12:00 noon at Martin Funeral Home in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Burial will follow at 2:00 pm at Beth EL cemetery In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Knoxville Opera Company, Hadassah, or Friends of IDF.