Theodore L. “Ted” Diamond ’37, ’85H, whose love for Lehigh and generosity continues to have a profound impact on undergraduate students across the university, died Wednesday. He was 95.
Diamond, who earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry and metallurgy from Lehigh, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Lehigh five decades later, helped shape the university in many ways.
“Ted was a gentleman whose love for his family and for Lehigh was evident in his life,” says Lehigh President Alice P. Gast. “He was a dedicated volunteer who helped shape the future of Lehigh at a very important point in its history. He generously shared his advice and he supported the university in ways that would create opportunities for future generations of students to share his passions for entrepreneurship, science and theater.”
Generations of students have benefited from his generosity. He endowed the Theodore L. Diamond Chair in Engineering and Applied Science, which is currently held by Himanshu Jain, professor of materials science and engineering and the director of the National Science Foundation's International Materials Institute for New Functionality in Glass.
His experiences on stage as a member of Lehigh’s venerable Mustard and Cheese Society inspired him to endow the Diamond Theater in Zoellner Arts Center, and his support continues in perpetuity through the Claire and Theodore Diamond Theater Endowment Fund.
He also funded the Theodore L. Diamond Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship in the College of Business and Economics. Diamond Center programs include the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for Global Entrepreneurship, the Summer Entrepreneurship Adventure, and the Pennsylvania Business Plan Competition.
Diamond gave generously of his time and energy as well. He served on the Board of Trustees for 15 years, from 1981 to 1996, and continued as a Trustee Emeritus until his death. He also served 10 years as chairman of the Tower Society, which recognizes alumni and friends of the university who support the endowment program. During his tenure, which ended in 2010, the Tower Society grew by 780 new members.
“He was a leader and a pragmatic thinker who vigorously pursued that which he believed in and loved Lehigh with every fiber of his being,” says Eugene Mercy Jr.’59,’98H, who served on the Board of Trustees with Diamond. “Lehigh and those who worked with him and knew him well will remember him with gratitude and miss him.”
He was a member of the Asa Packer Society since its inception in 1967 and was a former president of the Lehigh Club of New York. In addition to the honorary degree, Diamond received two of Lehigh’s highest alumni honors: the distinguished Alumni Award from the Lehigh University Alumni Association in 1977 (during the Class of 1937’s 40th Reunion) and the prestigious L-in-Life Award in 1980.
A zest for life
Diamond, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1916, had a highly successful career in the metals industry.
From 1941 to 1946, Diamond served in the United States Navy, rising from ensign to lieutenant senior grade and executive officer of his station in Bethlehem. During the war years, Diamond worked at Bethlehem Steel to oversee the massive Naval ship building effort that depended on steel generated by the plant. He was commended for this dedicated service to the nation.
In 1946, Diamond married the love of his life, Claire Winston, who served as secretary and treasurer of T.L. Diamond and Company Inc., and became an accomplished artist. In addition to his wife, Diamond also is survived by a son, Peter, and daughter, Patricia Ann.
After the war, Diamond worked in a family metal trading business before founding T. L. Diamond & Company, Inc. in 1950. He was owner and chief executive officer of the international, non-ferrous metal trading firm that also specialized in precious metals, headquartered in New York City.
In 1970, Diamond acquired a zinc smelter in W.Va., from the Matthiessen & Hegeler Zinc Company, manufacturing zinc metallic powder at that location for 33 years. In 1984, Diamond acquired the Eagle Picher Zinc smelter at Hillsboro, Ill., where zinc oxide pigments were produced for the major paint manufacturers for about 20 years.
Diamond’s lifelong pattern of accomplishing whatever he set his mind to may best be illustrated by his decision at age 50 to take up running seriously. Diamond, who also enjoyed golf and tennis, went on to complete several New York City Marathons—the last one in 1995, at age 79.
No public service is planned.