Harold Louis Wattel, a longtime professor of economics and former dean of the School of Business at Hofstra University, spent decades helping to grow the school into what it is today, family and educators said.
“Hofstra was his life and our lives for his whole career,” said his daughter, Karen Arenson, of Manhattan. “He started with it when it was a tiny college with just a couple of small buildings and watched it bloom into a large university.”
Wattel died Sunday at the Zicklin Hospice in Riverdale, the Bronx. He was 95.
He began teaching at Hofstra in 1947, chaired the economics department and served as the School of Business dean from 1965 to 1973, retiring in 1986.
The university conferred on him a distinguished service award in 1984. Two years later, he was granted the status professor emeritus of economics.
Herman Berliner, dean of the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, joined the Hofstra faculty as an economics professor when Wattel was dean of the school of business and a professor in the economics department. “Dr. Wattel had a major impact on the development of the school of business at Hofstra,” Berliner said in a statement.
His daughter said he followed a rigorous curriculum.
“He tried to teach his students how to do serious research and how to write well, and he believed strongly they needed a strong education as well as business skills,” she said.
Born in Brooklyn, he grew up in Queens and graduated from Queens College in 1942. He enlisted in the Navy, serving on the USS Massachusetts in the South Pacific. He married Sara Gordon on Sept. 1, 1946, after meeting her in Washington, D.C., after the war.
The couple settled in Levittown, where they started raising their two daughters, and then moved to Roslyn Heights. Wattel lived there from 1963 until June 2013, when he moved to Manhattan to be closer to his daughter, Karen Arenson.
He earned a master’s degree in economics from Columbia University and a doctorate from the New School for Social Research.
He worked in the New York State Consumer Affairs Department under Gov. W. Averell Harriman, was a consultant to many businesses on Long Island and New York City, and served on many nonprofit boards, including the state’s Cooperative Extension Service, the Parodneck Foundation and the nonprofit IPRO (Improving Healthcare for the Common Good), where he represented consumer interests in health care.
“He cared deeply about how consumers were being treated,” his daughter said.
In 1964, his daughter, said, he was a member of New York State’s Moreland Commission that recommended decontrolling liquor prices. For a year starting in 1988, he taught at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in China.
“In his late sixties, there he was teaching in China,” Arenson said. “He liked seeing places but he liked meeting people, too, and he always made friends.”
He also enjoyed traveling to Europe and Scandinavia. He loved art, poetry, books, travel and people, his family said.
After his wife’s death in 1995, he met Phyllis Tartell and they enjoyed many happy years together, Arenson said.
In addition to Arenson, he is survived by his daughter Jill Stockinger of Sacramento, California, and his companion, Tartell, of Roslyn. Donations in his honor may be made to Hofstra, Queens College or the USS Massachusetts Memorial in Fall River, Massachusetts.
A memorial service will be Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Riverside Memorial Chapel, 180 W. 76th St., Manhattan.