Joseph Goldsten, the Mamie Fox Twyman Martel Professor of Management Emeritus at Washington and Lee University, died on Thursday, Oct. 11, in Lexington. He was 83. He taught at W&L from 1972 until his retirement in 1999, specializing in financial theory, strategic planning and family business.
“Professor Goldsten brought a sharp, analytical mind to his teaching,” said Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “He also cared deeply about higher education and often challenged his students not to become what he called ‘passive observers of their own education.’ Many alumni point to lessons they learned from him that went well beyond the latest financial models.”
Goldsten was born on Jan. 15, 1929, in Charlottesville, Va. He earned his B.S. in engineering from Virginia Tech (1950), where he belonged to the Corps of Cadets and the Highty-Tighties regimental band. He then earned his M.S. in engineering from Lehigh University (1951) and worked at Borg-Warner, where he was instrumental in developing a compressor for an automobile air-conditioning unit, among the first such patents of its kind.
He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army and served in the Korean War.
From 1953 to 1972, Goldsten held several different positions in a variety of businesses. He was a chief engineer, Lehigh Inc. (1953–1957); staff engineer, York Division, Borg-Warner (1957–1958); manager of engineering and purchasing, Plainfield Division, Worthington-Studebaker Corp. (1958–1961); chief engineer, York Division, Borg-Warner (1961); vice president and director, Capitol Machine Co. (1961–1964); manager of engineering, Diamond Power Specialty Co. (1964–1967); and consultant, president of Byer Investment Co. (1967–1972).
In the early 1970s, he made a major career shift, earning his Ph.D. in business administration from The Ohio State University (1974) and joining the faculty at Washington and Lee to begin his distinguished teaching career.
"Professor Goldsten was a revered member of the Business Department who challenged students with rigorous courses in finance and worked tirelessly to develop opportunities for W&L graduates interested in careers in finance," said Larry Peppers, the Crawford Family Dean of the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. "Several years ago, a group of Professor Goldsten’s former students, wanting to recognize the profound impact that he had on their lives, started the Goldsten endowment for faculty development. His colleagues will remember Joe for his passionate support of students and for his great devotion to Washington and Lee. He will be missed, and we extend our condolences to Barbara and to Joe’s children."
Every spring, he took his students to New York on investment trips. He also led teams of Washington and Lee students to competition in the Emory University Intercollegiate Business Games, which they won several times. He was named to the Martel professorship in 1991. The endowment in his honor, the Joseph Goldsten Departmental Support Fund, was established by three of his former students and helps the Williams School in various ways.
Goldsten also served the University with his leadership of the Fringe Benefits Committee and as an adviser to Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
In the Lexington community, he was vice-chair of the board of the Stonewall Jackson Hospital and chaired the Lexington Planning Commission. In his professional community, he participated in the Eastern Finance Association and served on the advisory board of the American Federal Savings and Loan.
Goldsten reminisced about his students to the W&L alumni magazine for the 2006 issue celebrating the Williams School’s centennial. “The most important thing we taught them was honesty,” he said. “Not just on the surface, but a basic behavior of thought and action. It’s irreplaceable and untouchable, and with ability, it carries a long way.”
One of his colleagues, John Gunn, the Lewis Whitaker Adams Professor of Economics Emeritus, described Goldsten as "a model professor for an undergraduate college of liberal studies like Washington and Lee," adding that "Joe was first a master of his discipline. . . . He was an extraordinarily effective teacher of his subject, but more than that, he was a wise and understanding mentor to dozens of students every year."
Goldsten is survived by his wife, Barbara Wassell Goldsten; five children, Carol Fruhwald, of Richmond, Va.; Janet Cantler, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Adeline Penn, of Diamond Springs, Calif.; Audrey Becht, of Atlanta; and John Goldsten, of Bethesda, Md.; nine grandchildren; and his brother, Leonard Goldsten, of Boca Raton, Fla. He was predeceased by his first wife, Adeline Wolff Goldsten; his second wife, Eve Byer Goldsten; and two brothers.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 3 p.m. in Lee Chapel followed by a reception in the Hotchkiss Alumni House.
Associate Director of Communications and Public Affairs