Hymin Shapiro

Hymin Shapiro died on November 1 in Seattle, where he lived for 8 years. He was a long-time employee of Ethyl Corporation.


He was born in Detroit on April 8, 1915 to Fannie Zuckerman Shapiro and Bernard Samuel Shapiro. He started school in the second grade and graduated from Northern High School in Detroit at the age of 15. He went on to Detroit’s Wayne State University, receiving a B. S. in Chemistry in 1934. He then took off a year to work as a painter for his father’s construction business before going onto the University of Michigan, where he earned a Masters degree in chemistry in 1936. He was refused entry into a Ph. D. program at the University because its “Jewish quota” was filled.


After sending some 200 letters to potential employers, Hy accepted an offer from what was to become his sole employer over his adult life. He was hired as chemist in the Ethyl company’s Detroit research laboratory, at the then high salary of $160 per month. He went on to become Assistant Director of Chemistry Research for the company. In 1957 he was transferred from Detroit to the company’s major facility in Baton Rouge, LA, where he served as Senior Research Advisor until his retirement in 1985.


Hy generated 110 patents during his career, mostly in the fields of organometallic chemistry. Perhaps the most significant of these is a patent on new organomanganese compounds, which became the basis of a commercial anti-knock compound for gasoline. In 1968 he co-authored The Organic Compounds of Lead with Frederick Frey.


Hy’s marriage to  Bernice Bassichis in 1939 ended after 15 years. He is survived by two children, Gary and Galia, from the marriage. He married Betty Moss in 1956. They had a wonderful and long marriage until Betty’s death in 2006. Hy’s early retirement years were marked by travel with Betty to Africa, Asia, and the American tropics. In 2000, Hy and Betty moved to the Seattle area to be near Betty’s son and daughter-in-law, Bob and Sue Moss. Hy is survived by his sister Stacia, as well as his children and stepson.

5 Responses to “Hymin Shapiro”

  • Marisha says:

    Hy was a gentleman and scholar. It was always a pleasure conversing with such a brilliant mind. Hy was always eager to share his knowledge and never tired of repeating things, in different ways, until the most complex concept was easily understood. I will miss my dear frind, Hy.
    It was a pleasure meeting and sharing time with Hy’s family, who were with him in his last days. And it was a powerful moment to watch Hy kiss both Galia and Gary’s hand; a ‘ggodbye’filled with dignity and love for his worthy children.
    I appreciated meeting Jean, Gary’s lovely wife and Hy’s sister, Stacia who brought many moments of joy into Hy’s life.
    I would also like to add that although I was a caregiver to Hy, I always considered him my friend. I will always remember the gentleman and scholar. marisha

  • Debbie Smartt says:

    Hy was a gentleman through and through. He was a
    delight to be with and had a wonderful sense of
    humour. We spent many hours laughing and joking
    and sharing stories of our life, I will always treasure these moments. I learnt a lot of wisdom
    from his life experiences.
    Hy’s daughter, Galia and his son, Gary made me feel like part of the family, and it was a pleasure getting to know them also.
    I will miss my friend dearly.

  • Kathryn & Brad says:

    Hy was a colorful character. We sure had alot of laughs together. He will be fondly remembered.

    Kathryn & Brad

  • Colleen & Alberto says:

    I worked with Hy and Alberto always cut his hair

    I found Hy to be a funny guy sometimes even we
    would start laughing and could not stop. We all
    experience lots of good and silly times with him.

    Alberto his hairdresser wanted me to say that he
    was one fine gentleman,. they had great talks together.

    Peace be with you Hymin.

  • Jodie Brown says:

    Hy and Betty were always a part of my life from my early childhood through my attendance at LSU in the late 1970’s and beyond. They were friends of my parents and a part of many famiily events. We had many dinners together during my college years and I always referred to them as Aunt Betty and Uncle Hy.Hy was always interested in my life and demonstrated it through many conversations. We corresponded- although infrequently- during the years when he and Betty had moved out west. I enjoyed knowing that that piece of my childhood was somewhere “out there” and interested in keeping in touch with me.It’s with sadness that I think of Hy’s passing. My parents, Rita and Eagle Levine are sad as well.

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