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Samuel L. Rubinstein
(May 20, 1922 - September 28, 2013)

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Samuel L. Rubinstein

Leonard Rubinstein, 91, of State College, PA, died on Saturday, September 28, at home, peacefully, after a long illness. He is survived by his wife and devoted partner in life of the past 30 years, Judy Maloney, and their daughter Bessie Rubinstein, 15, who will miss her dad terribly; his first wife Mary Cady and their children, Joshua Rubinstein (Scott) of Crozet, VA; Amanda Rubinstein Stern (Martin) of New Orleans, LA; and Zachary Rubinstein (Alice) of Pittsburgh, PA. He is also survived by his brother and sister-in-law Joseph and Bette Rubinstein of West Lafayette, IN; and his sister Sallie of Tallahassee, FL. He is survived by four grandchildren, Reuben Stern, Moriah Stern, Zoe Rubinstein, and Esme Rubinstein, and nephew and nieces Geoff Rubinstein, Shalometh Gilbert, and Hanni Rubinstein. Rubinstein was born in Salem, NJ, on May 20, 1922, the son of the late Bessie and Morris Rubinstein. After high school, he worked in a glass factory, then attended the Price School of Advertising and Journalism in Philadelphia, and then, during WWII, was sent for language training at Stanford University and put in charge of a German prisoner of war camp in Charleston, South Carolina. From that experience he would write his first novel, the Battle Done, published by William Morrow & Co. in 1954. After the war he attended Rutgers University, then the State University of Iowa, where he earned an M.F.A. in English in 1951. He joined the English Department faculty of Penn State in 1952, where he taught Fiction Writing and Comparative Literature, and was promoted to Professor in 1966. Within the English Department Rubinstein directed the Writing Option for many years, whose central principle was that all writing is drama. Rubinstein wrote or co-authored many novels and textbooks including The Grave-Maker’s House, which he wrote with his English Department colleague and close friend Robert Weaver under the pseudonym Rubin Weber, and for which they won the Edgar Allan Poe Special Award of the Mystery Writers of America in 1965. He also collaborated with Weaver on two textbooks, The Plain Rhetoric and Frameworks of Exposition, and an anthology, The Brief Essay. After his retirement from Penn State in 1985, he again collaborated with Weaver on their novel Coals of Fire. Rubinstein’s Writing: A Habit of Mind was published in 1972. It gathered all of the deeply-held principles that guided his teaching of writing at Penn State. The book opens, “We can be clear about confusion. It is wild, random energy. We can use that energy. We can convert it into force. We can make it into sense. Writing makes sense. It makes experience into form.” Beginning in 1981 and ending in 1998, Rubinstein hosted the weekly program Odyssey Through Literature, broadcast on Penn State’s public radio station and produced by Nancy Marie Brown. He had conversations with 260 writers, scholars, and translators, including University faculty members as well as internationally known literary figures such as Chaim Potok, Czeslaw Milosz and Jorge Luis Borges. In 1985-86 Rubinstein received a Fulbright grant to teach American Literature in Eastern Europe. He and his wife, Judy, spent a year in the medieval town of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria, and from the experience he published the essay, “The Most American American Short Story,” in the journal, The American Voice. Rubinstein published many other articles, essays, and texts on grammar, writing, and literature over his long career, but his main work was in the classroom, which he considered a sacred space, and where his students learned to write, and to think, and to understand that the two were the same act. He taught and influenced thousands of students, many of whom continued, even to the week before his death, to correspond with and visit him. A Memorial Service will be held for Leonard at the Congregation Brit Shalom, 620 E. Hamilton, State College, on Sunday, October 6, at 2 PM, and all are invited. Afterwards there will be a luncheon in the Congregation’s Social Hall. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the College of the Liberal Arts General Scholarship Fund in Memory of S. Leonard Rubinstein. These should be sent to the College of the Liberal Arts, 139 Sparks Building, University Park, PA 16802. Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com.


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