Obituary: Lewis D. Morse / Former World War II soldier and inventor

Oct. 29, 1924 - July 10, 2014

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If Lewis D. Morse’‍s life were a movie, it would follow classic 20th-century American plot lines featuring the son of immigrants achieving professional success after experiencing the horrors of World War II.

The Oakland resident since 1989 and his identical twin, Jack, were first-generation Americans raised by Lithuanian parents in New York City. After high school in 1942, they joined the U.S. Army. Mr. Morse landed in Normandy days after the invasion. He participated in the liberations of Belgium and the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany.

He got a master’‍s degree in polymer chemistry under the GI Bill and received 13 patents, including one for micro-encapsulation technology involving the time-release of chemicals to treat and purify water. It also helped facilitate development of time-release medications.

Mr. Morse gave his daughter plenty of advice based on what he learned along his American pathway to success: “He always encouraged me to be aware and that anything I wanted to do was possible,” said Marjorie Bell of Princeton, N.J. “Dream big. Think big.”

Mr. Morse, 89, formerly of Upper St. Clair, died July 10 from complications related to hip surgery, which he fractured in a fall May 28 inside his home.

After the war, Mr. Morse married Vivian Mirell in New York City. She died in May 2013 after 67 years of marriage.

He earned a bachelor’s degree at Brooklyn College and his master’‍s degree at New York University. In 1967, he became a research scientist with Merck & Co., in Rahway, N.J., then moved to the Pittsburgh area in 1979 as a research fellow at the Merck subsidiary of Calgon, Inc. in Robinson.

Justia.com lists Mr. Morse’‍s patents for products that remove solids from painting systems; inhibit scaling in boiling systems; create polymers to improve hair products; other polymers in suntan lotions, shaving creams, deodorants and sunscreen products to enhance skin feel. One patent stabilizes vitamin C and iron in fruit- and vegetable-flavored beverages.

He never much discussed his experience during the war.

“He saw horrific things. When I pressed him, he would give as few details as he could,” Ms. Bell said.

Mr. Morse retired from Calgon in 1989 and traveled nationwide as a polymer science consultant. He wrote two self-published murder mysteries.

His twin brother died in 2001.

Tor Richter, an 87-year-old retired Navy physician in the same condominium complex where Mr. Morse lived, said he was a “moderately good amateur bridge player,” noted for planning weekly bridge games.

“We both were enlisted men in the Second World War, and he must have been one hell of a soldier. He had resoluteness bordering on doggedness, and when he made up his mind to do something, he did it,” Dr. Richter said. “He didn’t make much small talk, but he was certainly goal-directed.”

Besides his daughter, Mr. Morse is survived by four grandchildren. There will be a memorial service at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Ralph Schugar Chapel, 5509 Centre Ave., Shadyside. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association.


David Templeton: dtempleton@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1578.

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