John Jacob Furth, an emeritus professor of pathology & laboratory medicine in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and a resident of both Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and Surry, Maine, died in Philadelphia on July 6. He was 87 years old.
Dr. Furth, a first-generation American, was born in Philadelphia. He studied American history at Cornell University and then served as part of the Quartermaster Corps during the Korean War. After completing his service, he went to Yale Law School but left after one year to study medicine at Duke Medical School. He completed his residency at New York University.
In 1962 he accepted a research associate position in the pathology department at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1968, he became an associate professor and in 1980 he became a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. He was a member of the Senate Executive Committee in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. In 1984, he received a Research Foundation Award for Transcription of genomic DNA by RNA polymerase II. In 1985, he received another for Transcription of Alutype Repeat DNA by RNA Polyvmerase III. He became emeritus in 2000.
A life-long political activist, he ran for mayor of Upper Darby and other elected offices. He was also active in preserving undeveloped land on the Maine coast and worked for years to make Darby Creek a clean, thriving ecosystem.
Dr. Furth is survived by his daughters, Karen, Susan and Robin; his sons-in-law, Jay Nubile, David Lunden and Mark Rutter; and three grandchildren, Sara Furth Lunden, Corinne Furth Lunden and Alex Nubile.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Friends of the Swedish Cabin, 9 Creek Road, Drexel Hill, PA 19026; to Darby Creek Valley Association, P.O. Box 732, Drexel Hill, PA 19026 (www.dcva.org/donate) or to Blue Hill Heritage Trust, 258 Mountain Road, P.O. Box 222, Blue Hill, Maine 04614 (www.bluehillheritagetrust.org).