1926 — 2017
Octave Levenspiel, 90, passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 5, 2017.
Octave “Tavy” was born in Shanghai, China, on July 6, 1926. He attended a German kindergarten, an English primary/secondary school and a French university. He wanted to be an astronomer, but it was not in the stars, so he studied chemical engineering. He left Shanghai for the United States in the spring of 1946 when he was 19 years old.
Tavy earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1947. He then moved to Corvallis where he earned his master’s degree in 1949 and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University (OSU) in 1952.
In 1952 he married Mary Jo Smiley and over a period of six years, they had three children, Bekki, Barney and Morris. His university teaching career took him to Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago and finally back to OSU with two sabbaticals spent in Cambridge, England. Tavy loved to travel so he and Mary Jo went around the world a few times lecturing and teaching in over 15 countries.
Levenspiel’s career as a professor of chemical engineering spanned more than four decades, yielding many peer-reviewed journal publications and a half-dozen authoritative textbooks. His pioneering book “Chemical Reaction Engineering,” was first published in 1961. This textbook is still used today in university classrooms around the world.
Octave retired in 1991, but he didn't slow down at all. He continued writing and creating revisions of his books. One of the highlights of his career was being inducted into the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2000. But what pleased him most was being called the "Doctor Seuss" of Chemical Engineering.
Octave is survived by his wife of 65 years, Mary Jo; two of his three children, Morris and Bekki (husband Keith Levien); and his three grandsons, Kyle, Cody and Quincy Levien.
He was preceded in death by his son, Barney, who died in 2003.
To learn more about his remarkable life, visit levenspiel.com where you can also leave a comment for the family or share a tribute/memory with Octave's family and friends. A memorial service will be announced on the website.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Levenspiel Lectureship Fund at the OSU Foundation, 850 S.W. 35th St., Corvallis, OR 97333.