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Walter Gershenfeld, 84, Labor Arbitrator, Mediator and Scholar

March 11, 2010
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Walter Gershenfeld, 84, internationally known as a labor arbitrator, mediator and scholar, serving as president both of the National Academy of Arbitrators and the Labor and Employment Relations Association, died Feb. 24. He was an emeritus professor and dean at Temple University.

Gershenfeld grew up in South Philadelphia. He graduated from Southern High School, earned his bachelor's degree from Temple University and his doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He also served in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of staff sergeant.

During the Korean war, he worked on staff for the Wage Stabilization Board in Philadelphia. He was then a research associate with the Industrial Un-ion of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers, rising to become director of industrial relations at the International Resistance Corporation and Progress Lighting Company.

Gershenfeld joined the faculty of Temple University in 1964 as a professor of business administration. He was elected as president of the Faculty Senate, where he helped restore the pensions of faculty who had lost their jobs at Temple University during the McCarthy era.

He later served as dean of Temple's Ambler campus, where he helped to revive the Temple University music festival. He was also a professor at Arizona State University, served as the Ford Visiting Professor of Management Studies at the University of the West Indies, and was a Visiting Research Scholar at Oxford University.

Throughout his career, Gershenfeld served as a labor arbitrator. He received the George W. Taylor award from the American Arbitration Association in 2003. He and his wife, Gladys, who also served as a labor arbitrator, joined with others to found the Philadelphia chapter of what is now the Labor and Employment Relations Association.

He was elected president in 1995 and received the LERA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.

Involved in community affairs, he served with the Jewish Employment and Vocational Service, the Alliance for Education in Dispute Resolution, the Concerned Citizens of Center City and Congregation Or Hadash.

In addition to his wife of 55 years, Gershenfeld is survived by sons Joel Gershenfeld, Neil Gershenfeld and Alan Gershenfeld; as well as six grandchildren.

Memorial donations can be made to: the Legacy for Learning Fund at Congregation Or Hadash, 190 Camp Hill Road, Fort Washington, PA 19034.

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