Published January 5, 2017
Donald R. Brutvan Sr., a longtime UB faculty member and dean of Millard Fillmore College, died Dec. 30 under hospice care at Kenmore Mercy Hospital. He was 92.
Born in Johnson City, Brutvan was drafted into the Army Air Forces in 1943. He was assigned to a B-24 bomber as a flight engineer, arriving in Foggia, Italy, in June 1944 at the beginning of the Allied invasion of Europe. He received a Purple Heart after being injured in his second crash after his plane overran the runway and broke in half.
During his 28th mission in August 1944, Brutvan’s plane ran out of fuel after a bombing run. He and his crew parachuted out of the aircraft and landed in a small village in Hungary. Residents, who had been bombed by Allied forces the previous day, threatened to hang the airmen. German forces intervened, capturing the crew. Brutvan spent 10 months as a prisoner of war, surviving a serious bout of malaria, before being liberated by Russian forces in June 1945.
Upon returning home in October 1945, he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on the GI Bill, studying chemical engineering. He earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from RPI.
Brutvan worked at Union Carbide for four years before joining the UB faculty in 1961 as the first full-time professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. He received the Professional Achievement Award from AIChE, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, in 1968.
Brutvan was named dean of Millard Fillmore College in 1978, developing curriculum and furthering the program’s efforts to educate non-traditional students. He returned to the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering as a professor before retiring in 1989.
Brutvan enjoyed golfing, art, music and traveling with his wife, children and grandchildren. An avid gardener and landscaper, he spent his retirement working in his yard and tinkering in his workshop.