Celebrating the life of Paul Levine

Robert Paul Levine died from natural causes at the age of 95 on January 25, 2022 at home in West Tisbury, Massachusetts. Levine was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926 and grew up in Los Angeles, California. After serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII, Levine received his doctorate in Plant Science from the University of California Los Angeles. He began his academic career in 1951 as Assistant Professor of Biology at Amherst College before moving to Harvard University in 1953, where he remained until his appointment in 1978 as Professor of Genetics at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis. At Amherst and Harvard his research focused on the genetics of Drosophila pseudoobscura and Chlamydomonas reinhardi, with a shift from evolutionary to molecular genetics. He chaired Harvard’s Department of Biology in the late 1950s during a period sometimes described as the “Molecular Wars.” In St. Louis, he continued biochemical research on complement proteins of the immune system, initiated research on yeast strains in wine-making, and in 1984 co-founded Osage Ridge Winery in Augusta, Missouri. From 1992-1997 he was Research Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, Pacific Grove, CA. There his research included a study of bacterial diseases in salmon, the symbiosis between sea anemones and algae, and biocomposite crystals. He continued research as Emeritus Professor through 2004. In 2009, he and his wife, the artist Marie-Louise Rouff, settled in West Tisbury, MA, where he wrote a series of science columns for the Martha’s Vineyard Times, served on the West Tisbury Public Library planning committee for the construction of its present building, and for ten years organized “The World of the Troubadours and Trobairitz” performances of Medieval French poetry and music. He was also wrote historical and detective fiction. He is survived by his wife Marie-Louise Rouff, his former wife Ursula Goodenough, his children Greg Levine, of El Cerrito, CA, Jason Levine, of Paris, France, and Mathea Morais, of Chilmark, MA, his step-children Emanuel Pastreich of Yeosu City, Korea and Michael Pastreich of Chevy Chase, MD, and ten grandchildren. Remembrances may be made in the form of donations to the West Tisbury Public Library. A celebration of life will take place on the island at a later date.