Amos Turk

Amos Turk, 97, of Danbury, husband of the late Pearl Bergman Turk and the late Regina Wallace Turk, died on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Dr. Turk was born in New York City on February 28, 1918, the only child of Benjamin Turk and Jeannette Turk. He graduated high school at 15, and received his BS in Chemistry from City College of New York (now part of CUNY) in 1937. Amos then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Ohio State University in 1940, at the age of 22. He married Regina Wallace in 1941.

As a graduate student, Amos Turk synthesized the first gallon of 100 octane gasoline ever created. He hand carried this precious glass bottle of gasoline to the research engineering laboratory at General Motors, where its combustion properties were analyzed. When World War II broke out, Dr. Turk shifted his focus to the war effect, studying high explosives and rocket fuels. “This is rocket science,” he said.

Regina and Amos had three children, Janet (now Janet Wittes), a statistician and mother of three; Jonathan, a chemist, author, and father of three; and Daniel, a banker, linguist, and father of two.

After the war, Amos and his family moved to Brooklyn, NY. He became a professor of chemistry at Baruch College. In 1951, shortly before the birth of Daniel, he moved to Danbury to become the director of research at Conner Engineering where he entered the then, young field of air pollution research. The Turks built a house on the shores of Tarrywile Lake, where Amos lived for 62 years.

In 1954, Amos returned to his Alma Mater to become a professor of chemistry at City College, where he engaged in cutting edge research on important problems in air pollution odors for the remainder of his professional life. In a long and distinguished career, his interest blended solving theoretical problems with a close connection to practical issues to make the air we breathe safer, cleaner, and healthier. For example, he analyzed air pollution control devices on New York City buses, developed novel procedures for removing the stink from New York City sewage systems, and invented methods for lengthening the useful life of cut flowers and picked fruit.

With coauthors, Amos wrote a sequence of best-selling general chemistry textbooks. He then led an effort with his son, Jonathan, daughter, Janet, and son-in-law Robert Wittes to produce the first college-level environmental science textbook in North America. He authored or co-authored 20 books and more than 100 technical articles.

After Regina died of cancer in 1971, Amos married Pearl Mallove Bergman, also of Danbury. Pearl’s two sons, Robert and Michael, along with their families, joined the growing family. Over the years, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren came along. Pearl and Amos lived together for 43 years; both were active in many community projects and activities for the Jewish community. They were instrumental in preserving the woodlands that now constitute Tarrywile Park. Pearl died in May 2015, at the age of 94.

Graveside funeral services will take place at the Children of Israel Cemetery, on Miry Brook Road, in Danbury, on Sunday, August 2, 2015 at 10:00 AM, with Rabbi Nelly Altenburger officiating. Donations in memory of Amos may be sent to Tarrywile Park, the Jewish Federation of North America and the United Jewish Appeal. 

Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home, Danbury is in charge of arrangements.

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