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Dr. Benjamin Ostrofsky

1925 - 2016
Dr. Benjamin Ostrofsky
Dr. Benjamin Ostrofsky was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1925. The son of the late Edith Segal and Eli Ostrofsky (both of blessed memory), Ben has one younger brother, Nathan Ostrofsky. Ben was in the 177th class at Central High School, in Philadelphia, graduating in 1942. He spent his childhood in Philadelphia, then in the military, settling in Los Angeles from 1955-1969, when he and his family moved to Houston, Texas. He then attended Drexel University, graduating with a BSME in 1947. He and his wife (of blessed memory), the former Shirley Welcher, were married in Southern California in 1956 and had two children, Keri and Marc.
After his military experience, he went to work in the aerospace industry in Southern California, first at Generator Equipment Company, then Douglas Aircraft Company, Northrop Corporation and TRW systems. In 1962 he completed a masters of Engineering degree, then completed his doctorate in Engineering at UCLA in 1968. He then joined the faculty at the University of Houston, where he completed his career as a distinguished professor in both Management and Engineering.
Ben led a highly decorated life. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943 as an Aviation Cadet and later served in the USAF for the Korean war in 1950. He held various engineering leadership positions in aerospace companies from 1953-1969. He then moved into academia, after receiving a Ford Foundation Fellowship to complete his PhD. He rose to the level of full professor first in the College of Business Administration at the University of Houston, then in a joint appointment with the Cullen College of Engineering. He was a member of numerous scholarship and technical societies, including Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi, Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Iota Delta, Alpha Pi Mu, American Association for the Advancement of Science, IEEE and the National Society of Professional Engineers. He's been recognized in numerous Who's Who publications. Ben was awarded the Armitage Medal in 1978, the Eccles medal in 1988 and the Founders Medal in 1993 from the Society of Logistics Engineers. He was one of the first members of this distinguished society to receive all three of these awards. More recently, he was honored as a distinguished alumni and inducted into the Hall of Fame of his high school, Central High.
Ben was a dominant force in influencing logistics knowledge, techniques, engineering and management. His activities in research, development, engineering, management, consulting and education profoundly changed the nature of logistics in government, industry and academia. He was a major contributor to the Dept of Defense maintainability standards, a pioneer in the area of maintainability for the USAF, a contributor to over 30 mathematical models of logistics predictors, a developer of methods for engineering design optimization, and an author of the text Design, Planning and Development Methodology (Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1977). He consulted with numerous fortune 500 companies and public agencies. He is a leader in the field of logistics, and is a Life member and Fellow of the Society of Logistics Engineers. In his autobiography, Memoirs of an Engineer, published in 2013 at Amazon.com, Ben told many stories of his life journey.
Perhaps his incredible lifetime achievements are best summed up in the citation accompanying the Founders Medal he received:
Dr. Ostrofsky's multi-faceted career has included highly significant activities as a researcher, engineer, manager, and academician, teaching many hundreds of student the nature, content and potential of logistics for enhancing their careers. As a researcher he identified and clarified the decision process in systems acquisition and developed the first batch processing data system to use field data for predicting logistics requirements during their earl test phases. These developments clarified and reinforced the philosophy of integrated logistics. As an engineer his work change the manner in which major systems were designed, significantly enhancing their effectiveness. As a manager, he directed several pioneering programs that led to, and greatly influenced, the current maintainability standards in the US. As an educator he played a leading role in developing logistics curricula and in the development of the Society of Logistics Engineers. He was a leader in the development of the certification program for logistics. He revitalized and published the society's annals. He was one of the founders, and served for many years on the board of governors, of the society's education foundation.
Ben leaves behind his daughter and her family, Drs. Keri and Yale Pearlson and Hana Pearlson, and his son and his family, Marc and Beverly Ostrofsky, Kelly, Shelly and Tracy Ostrofsky, and his brothers and sisters-in-law, Nathan and Dorothy Ostrofsky of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Arthur and Diane Welcher of Santa Cruz, California.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in Ben's memory to Houston Hospice, Rabbi Roy Walter Discretionary Fund at Comgregation Emanu El, or the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Feb. 27, 2016
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