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Obituaries » Donald Lawrence Blumenthal

Donald Lawrence Blumenthal

February 14, 2017


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BLUMENTHAL, Dr. Donald Lawrence Died on February 14, 2017, of complications from lymphoma. Don was brilliant and kind, and a much loved husband, father, brother, partner and colleague. His steady common sense and keen insight will be very much missed by all who knew him. Don was passionate about flying. In fact, he obtained his pilot’s license before his driver’s license. He earned his BS and PhD from the California Institute of Technology in Engineering and Aeronautics, and then invented a new career to merge his desire to do meaningful work with the passion that brought him such joy. He co-founded Sonoma Technology Inc. (with Jerry Anderson, Willard Richards, and Sandy MacDonald) to study air quality, piloting the early data-collecting flights himself. Under his leadership, STI’s studies identified and explained environmental issues worldwide. Don was a man of few words, but it was always worth listening when he did speak. His dry wit and sly humor were worth waiting for, and his advice was sought by all who knew him. Don expected the best from himself and from everyone around him. His commitment to living an ethical life, as well as his perseverance and drive, inspired the same in others. Don’s vision for STI, an employee-owned firm, was to provide science-based solutions for air quality, meteorological, and other environmental needs in an ethical and objective manner. An early example of their work was when several counties in the Los Angeles area claimed that they did not contribute to the air pollution in a nearby county. Don designed and executed a study that demonstrated that air moved and transported air pollution much farther than people thought. Don was known for his extremely high (some would say almost unachievable) standards, his continual focus on excellence, and his integrity. He felt that “telling the story” was key to getting the correct policy decisions made about air quality issues. Within STI, this is now known as the “so-what?” question – clearly explain why the reader/the client/the public should care about the research, findings, or results. Donald spent his spare time flying, boating, camping, and adroitly slipping puns into conversations. He was awarded the 2001 Air and Waste Management Association’s (AWMA’s) Frank Chambers Award for outstanding achievement in the science and art of air pollution control. He was a strong believer in the power of science to improve the world, and judged the Healdsburg Science Fair every year for over 30 years. Don and his wife Heidi were married for 49 years. He also leaves behind his son David, daughter-in-law Sofia, grandchildren Mateo, Ilario, and Paloma, sisters Barbara, Linda, Lee, and Sally, brothers Steven and Tony, and countless other family and friends. We are all better people because we had him in our lives. Don was a firm believer in the importance of accessible education. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, please donate to a school or education foundation of your choice. A memorial service will be arranged in the spring.