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1943 Peter Wolf 2024

Peter Wolf

February 8, 1943 — June 5, 2024

Peter A. Wolf, Ph.D., born Péter Gyula Szerényi to Dr. József Szerényi and Klára (Donaberger) Szerényi, both deceased, on February 8, 1943, in Budapest, Hungary, passed away after years of declining health at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 5, 2024, at the age of 81. He is survived by his pride and joy, his 31-year-old son, Alexander Davis Wolf, who goes by Alex.

In 1985, Peter changed his last name to Wolf, the English translation of the last name of his beloved grandmother Ilona Farkas, and replaced his middle name with the initial A, signifying his love of wolves and wicked sense of humor.

Shortly before turning 13, Peter and his family-father Dr. József Szerényi, stepmother Irene, older brother Laszlo, and younger brother Miklos-immigrated to the United States after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, arriving on Christmas Day, December 25, 1956. After a long flight on a U.S. Air Force propeller plane, they were processed at Camp Kilmer Army Base before settling in Passaic, New Jersey, on Hope Ave. Before retiring and moving to Jemez Springs, then Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he died in his home, Peter lived in Illinois, Maryland, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. He traveled the world for work and pleasure and maintained a strong love for Hungary.

Peter was a brilliant and accomplished scientist. He graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Chemistry in 1964, an M.S., and Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1970. He completed post-doctoral studies at the University of North Carolina in 1972. Peter was a multi-patent holder, including a carbonation measuring system and process control, an emulsion stabilizer, and a novel tennis racket design, to name a few. While at Pepsi, one of his scientific breakthroughs included contributing to the invention of Splenda® Sweetener.

Before retiring, Peter was an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Tufts University; a Senior Scientist at Betz Labs; Head of Basic Research for PepsiCo's RT&S (Research & Technical Services), where he worked for over 14 years (1979-1993), and was especially cherished by his colleagues; Vice President, Technical Affairs at W. M. Barr Company; Principal Scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, TIC Gums; Research Fellow at Tate & Lyle; and Founder of Pyramid Consulting. Peter's expertise included thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, emulsions technology, analytical methods, surface chemistry, hydrocolloid structure, photochemistry, mathematics, computer programming, food science, sweeteners, and carbonated beverage ingredients and applications.

Peter preferred to make or repair things rather than buy them or pay someone to do the work, and often, his inventions were one of a kind-a trait he has passed on to his son. Peter once built an entire house from the studs to the cabinets and was admired for the wrap-around decks he built for his houses. The most recent home has Peter-invented solar panels with a novel cooling feature.

Peter also had a love for culture and arts. He enjoyed classical music and playing the clarinet when he was able. Many of the pictures and stained-glass portraits in his house were ones he took and created himself.

Peter's passion for science and sports, especially soccer, created strong bonds with many of his PepsiCo soccer mates and co-workers, including Dr. David Seville, with whom he still frequently reviewed the latest soccer and hockey news, most recently just weeks before his passing. Peter maintained another long-time friendship with László Szabolcs, whom he met in 1958.

Peter's first marriage to Sandra McCoy in 1966 ended in divorce in 1983. They had no children. In 1991, Peter married Yvonne (Davis) Wolf, whom he met while working for Pepsi in Valhalla, New York. The couple eloped in Carmel, California, with the ceremony planned by Peter, revisiting all their favorite spots from a previous work trip. They divorced in 2004, but before doing so, Peter and Yvonne welcomed their only child, Alexander Davis Wolf, making Peter a first-time father at 50. He adored his son and introduced him to soccer at six months old and a lifetime of his love of the outdoors, including sailing an 18-foot catamaran, which Peter tricked out with a motor. Peter also loved animals, especially dogs. His heart was broken when Chinook and Akela passed away, but Ada, a recent addition, gave Peter a great deal of joy up to his final days.

Dr. Peter Wolf's life was marked by genius, athleticism, humor, resilience, dedication, and his love for his son, Alex. Peter leaves behind a legacy and cherished memories for the many lives he touched.

*****

A brief Memorial Service followed by cremation and solidification, compressing Peter's remains into "stones," which Alex can keep, scatter, or share as he wishes. The service will take place under the compassionate care of French Funeral & Cremations in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In lieu of flowers, remember to keep your loved ones close, say I love you often and cherish moments big and small. "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:31-32

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