Former Villanova Professor Honored for Fostering Interfaith Relations

Article excerpt

One of Ralph Koliner's rewards as a professor of civil engineering was to have his students use their engineering skills to improve the lives of those living in underdeveloped countries.

"After Dad retired from Villanova University, he and my mother traveled throughout the world, often stopping in a country to visit with his former students," said his son, Dr. Charles Koliner of Mt. Lebanon, chief of the Division of Medicine at Washington Hospital, Washington, Pa.

"On several of their trips to countries in Asia, Dad was pleased to see his students involved in public works projects," he said.

Ralph Koliner of Friendship Village, Upper St. Clair, formerly of Philadelphia, died on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010, in Friendship Village. He was 93.

Mr. Koliner, an active member of Beth Israel Synagogue in Washington, assisted in the reading of the Torah into his 90s. He was honored for his years of fostering interfaith relations with an award in honor of the Four Chaplains. The four chaplains -- two ministers, a Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi -- during World War II opted to give their life jackets to servicemen and go down together when their ship was hit by German torpedoes.

Ralph Koliner was born in New York City, one of five children in the family of businessman and silversmith Kelly Koliner and his wife, Fanny Koliner, who emigrated from Eastern Europe.

In 1932, after graduating from Stuyvesant High School in New York City, 16-year-old Ralph Koliner enrolled in Cooper Union College in New York City.

"Dad had to work to attend college," his son added. …