Dr. Joseph Rubinfeld

Oct. 24, 1932 – Dec. 26, 2016

Joseph “Dr Joe” Rubinfeld, a resident of Danville, passed away unexpectedly on December 26, 2016, at his home at the age of 84.  Joe was born on October 24, 1932 in Brooklyn, New York to Mechel and Mary Rubinfeld. He married his wife and soul mate Loretta Rubinfeld on March 1, 1958.

Joe attended City College of New York before attending Columbia University for graduate school where he earned a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry. Over a career that spanned more than 60 years, Joe was instrumental in discoveries that truly changed the world.

Some of his achievements include invention of 10-second Polaroid film and the biodegradable detergent formula used in dishwashing detergents. For saving the Great Lakes with his biodegradable detergent formula, Dr Joe was awarded the Commonwealth Award for Invention in 1985.

Dr Joe was also active in the biotechnology and medical fields. His inventions, including the development of the antibiotics Amoxicillin and Cefadroxil, were directly responsible for saving millions of lives.

While his passion was science and invention, he also had a passion for business. In 1980, he co-founded Amgen, which would become the world’s largest biotechnology company. Later in his career, he founded SuperGen, Inc. and then JJ Pharma, Inc. He was active on the corporate and scientific advisory boards of multiple other pharmaceutical companies. He loved working and inventing. He retired once but did not like it because, as he said, there’s only so many times you can go to Hawaii or Europe.

Dr Joe is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Loretta; his son Steven and his wife Kathleen of Danville, his daughter Susan and her husband Joseph Iovino of Danville, his daughter Randee and her husband Kevin Rolens of Danville, and his daughter Bonnee. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, his brother Julius Rubinfeld and his wife Leslie, sister Rosalyn Axelrod, and a very large and loving extended family.

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A celebration of life is scheduled for Thursday, December 29 at 5:00 in the evening at Oakmont Memorial Park in Lafayette. A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, December 30 at 10:00 in the morning at Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville. Graveside services will be held at Oakmont Memorial Park immediately following the memorial service.

Click here for directions to Oakmont Memorial Park in Lafayette.

Click here for directions to Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville.

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Life in Pictures

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Whether it was through developing new drugs to fight diseases, or his charitable contributions, Joe was dedicated to helping others. If you would like to make a donation in his name, these are a few charities he was very proud of.

City of Hope

St. Jude's HospitalStanford Medicine


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