Paul Soros passed away on Saturday June 15, 2013 at the age of 87 in the family residence on Fifth Avenue, New York. This is a profoundly sad occasion for the Soros family, for the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans Program, and for the community of 475 Soros Fellows. A community that he, in close collaboration with Daisy, founded and nurtured.
The founding and character of the Program have been informed by Paul's inspiring personal story, his commitment to American constitutional democracy, and his visionary philanthropy.
As an 18-year-old in Hungary in 1944, Paul assumed a false identity and survived the Holocaust era. When the Soviets invaded Budapest, he was arrested, became a Russian prisoner of war, and escaped while in transit to Russia. A member of the Hungarian Olympic ski team in 1948, he defected, initially to Austria and subsequently to the United States. His experiences under both Nazi and Communist regimes awakened in him a powerful and enduring commitment to the American constitution and Bill of Rights. He believed that active and informed citizenship is essential to the protection of our democracy. And he was convinced that immigrants and others who have recently achieved citizenship have a special responsibility to support and defend our constitutional system.
As an extremely promising young engineering student in New York City - he met his wife-to-be, Daisy, at International House - Paul struggled to afford graduate study. A Master's degree from Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn, however, launched his distinguished career as a creative, innovative, and highly accomplished civil engineer. His innovative ideas, and his determination to see them implemented, transformed port design worldwide.
Paul and Daisy's lives as immigrants informed and shaped their decision to fund and personally support a national graduate fellowship program that helps launch careers of New Americans. It supports individuals whose creativity and drive suggest that they have special promise of making distinctive contributions to American life. It recognizes that such individuals can be found at more and less distinguished institutions throughout the country. And it emphasizes and encourages active citizenship among its Fellows. Paul was especially proud of the contributions that Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows have already made to American life. They, and all of us who play roles in implementing his vision, mourn his passing and pay tribute to the enduring legacy of his wisdom and philanthropy.
A New York Times obituary detailing his life story and many contributions is available on line. You can read it at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/business/paul-soros-shipping-innovator-dies-at-87.html?hp&_r=0
In addition, a death notice inserted by the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship Program appears in today's Times. You can read it at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?n=paul-soros&pid=165388237#fbLoggedOut