An 88-year-old UCLA engineering professor emeritus, known for his unrelenting love of learning, leaped to his death from his 12th-floor West Los Angeles apartment Thursday morning, police said.
The body of Daniel Rosenthal was found on the sidewalk in the 11700 block of Wilshire Boulevard shortly before 6 a.m., Detective Fred Kahl said.
Kahl said Rosenthal left a note to his daughter, Lucy Dale of West Los Angeles, declaring that he could “no longer bear the idea of becoming a useless vegetable.”
His colleagues at UCLA, where he continued to teach occasionally as recently as last year, said they knew of no physical illness. One said he suspected the note referred to a feeling by Rosenthal that his mental capacities were diminishing.
Taught Class for Aged
Rosenthal, who until 1987 taught a class titled, “Your Brain: Use It or Lose It,” for older people at Santa Monica City College, said three years ago that as he grew older, he never gave much thought to how long he would last.
“But of one thing I was certain,” he said. “If I allowed my brain to become fallow, I would become a vegetable.”
UCLA spokesman Tom Tugend said he talked to Rosenthal a few days ago and found him “certainly very mentally alert and sharp.”
Rosenthal was born in Poland, earned an engineering doctorate at the University of Brussels and taught there briefly before fleeing from the Nazis with his late wife, Anne. He was a UCLA faculty member from 1946 to 1967. His field was materials engineering.
Tugend said Rosenthal spoke seven languages and wrote books in several of them.
In addition to his daughter, he leaves two grandchildren and four great grandchildren, as well as a sister, Rae Gyst of Sydney, Australia.