Dr. Frederick H. Kasten, 87, Johnson City, died Monday, April 14, 2014, at the Johnson City Medical Center following a lengthy illness.
The son of the late Isaac Kasten and Anna Goldblum Kasten, he was born in Harlem, New York City and raised in the Bronx. He maintained contact with the “Amerks Club,” a group of childhood friends. He grew up in the Jewish faith.
He went to New York City public schools, graduating from Samuel Gompers Vocational H.S. (radio electronics) and the Bronx H.S. of Science. He also took evening school courses at Morris H.S. and Theodore Roosevelt H.S.
Dr. Kasten was a World War II veteran, having served with the Merchant Marines as a radio operator in the North African Theatre and with the U.S. Navy as an aviation electronics technician.
He was an internationally-recognized cell biologist and historian of science and medicine. He was the author of three books, over twenty-five scientific book chapters, seventy research publications, thirty-five reviews and many miscellaneous letters and obituaries. He was the recipient of numerous honors and awards throughout his career of more than fifty years. A member of various national and international societies, Dr. Kasten had traveled and lived all over the world during his professional career.
After majoring in biology at the University of Houston (B.A., 1950), he completed graduate studies in zoology at the University of Texas, Austin (M.S., 1950; PhD., 1954). He carried out postdoctoral research at Columbia University, Justus-Liebig’s University in Giessen, Germany, and the Institut de Recherches Scientifique sur le Cancer, in Villejuif (near Paris).
His career also included teaching/research positions at Roswell Park Memorial Institute, Texas A&M University, Pasadena Foundation for Medical Research, University of Southern California School of Medicine and Loma Linda University School of Medicine. Dr. Kasten was a visiting professor at Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt; Ain Shams University, Cairo, and Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland.
Dr. Kasten was the first American scientist to do long-term research in Communist East Germany and was also a researcher in the former Soviet Union. He was fascinated by reading his “Stasi” Secret Service file from East Berlin after the Wall went down.
He retired as Cell Biology Professor from Louisiana State University Medical School in New Orleans after twenty-seven years of service, and was named Professor Emeritus of Anatomy. He was currently serving as Adjunct Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine. In August 2009, he was honored to be chosen Scholar-in-Residence at the Sherrod Library at ETSU.
Throughout his life, Dr. Kasten played leadership roles in professional societies and in civic and community causes, with his wife, Marie, by his side. He played a major role in organizing C.H.I.P. in Pasadena, CA, an organization devoted to providing dental care for needy school children. At College Station, TX, he was the co-chairman of Citizens’ Fellowship, an Interracial Group devoted to achieving justice by providing postal service for black residents. He and his wife were largely responsible for integrating the city’s public school system by legal means.
In 1996, the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association awarded a “Chapter Excellence Award” of $1,000 for expenses to Dr. Kasten and his wife, who were co-leaders of the New Orleans Manic-Depressive Association for 12 years. He had been an amateur ham radio operator since 1944 and contacted two hundred countries as a DX’er. He enjoyed his hobby of growing unusual and large vegetables and won honors at the Appalachian Fair.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a son, Stephen David Israel Kasten; and a brother, Rubin Kasten.
Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Agnes “Marie” Garrison Kasten; three sons, Frederick Lee Kasten, and his wife, Tana, of Livingston, Montana, Donald Jacob Kasten, of Johnson City, and Glenn Thomas Kasten and his wife, Dawn, of San Mateo, California; a brother, Jerry Kasten and his wife, Deanna, of Dallas, Texas; six grandchildren, Edward Kasten, Vanessa Kasten Urango, Veronica Kasten, Stephanie Kasten, Aurora Kasten and Aiden Kasten; three great grandchildren, Hannah Rose, Heidi Kasten and Violet Urango; several nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Dr. Kasten’s life will be conducted at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, April 19, 2014, in the Morris-Baker Funeral Home South Chapel.
The family will receive friends from 1:00 p.m. until time of service at 3:00 p.m.
Interment will be conduced on Monday, April 21, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. in Mountain Home National Cemetery. Family and friends are asked to assemble at the funeral home to leave in procession by 9:30 a.m.
For those who wish, memorial contributions may be made to Charles C. Sherrod Library, Frederick H. Kasten History Book Fund, East Tennessee State University, Box 70665, Johnson City, TN 37614.
Online condolences may be sent to the Kasten family through www.morrisbaker.com.
Morris-Baker Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 2001 Oakland Ave., Johnson City, TN 37601 (423) 282-1521 is serving the Kasten family.