Dr. Sam L. Agron, 97, of Verona and Boca Raton, Fla., died Aug. 12, 2018. Born in Lugansk, Ukraine, he was one of four children born to Celia and Joseph Agronovsky, fleeing Russia during a time of pogroms. The family arrived at Ellis Island in 1922 on the Cunard Line, but had to return to Southampton since the quota for refugees was filled. Two years later, they sailed once more to the United States and moved to Brooklyn.
Dr. Agron attended Samuel J. Tilden High School and was twice elected president of the Astronomy Club. He enrolled at Brooklyn College and transferred to Northwestern University when his family moved to Chicago. He earned a B.S. degree with a major in geology. He earned his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University.
He was told as a Jew that he would have difficulty getting a job as a geologist. While looking for a position, he worked as a supervisor of 20 men at the Oakland Navy Yard, building ships for the war effort. After the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Navy and was sent to the Midshipman School at Notre Dame. He achieved the rank of lieutenant and served as a damage control officer on a minesweeper in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.
He later became an assistant professor in the Geology Department at Brown University but left after two years to take on the position of building the Geology Department at Rutgers University in Newark, remaining as its chairman for 33 years. He retired from Rutgers in 1994 and was honored with the title Professor Emeritus. The Rutgers Oral History Archives also interviewed him. A member of the National Academy of Science, he also taught a summer course in geology at Johns Hopkins University.
Along with his family, he sponsored eight relatives living in the former Soviet Union to come to the United States. With the help of the late representative Dean Gallo, they were able to make the journey and now live in New York and California.
A supporter of scholarships in Israel and the United States, among the charitable organizations he contributed to were Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Weizmann Institute of Science, Northwestern and Johns Hopkins universities, and Jewish National Fund.
Predeceased by his first wife, Beatrice Raiziss, in 1991, he is survived by his wife, Rita; his daughter, Ginger; his son, Laurence (Mira); a brother, Michael Agron; and a granddaughter.
Services were held Aug. 15 with arrangements by Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel, Livingston. Memorial contributions may be made to Jewish National Fund.