Shipping magnate Paul Soros dies in NYC at 87

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Paul Soros, a successful innovator in shipping, philanthropist and the older brother of billionaire financier George Soros, died in New York City on Saturday after a long bout with a host of illnesses, said his son Peter Soros. He was 87.

Soros, an engineer and businessman, founded Soros Associates, a world leader in the design and development of bulk handling and port facilities. The company has operations in 91 countries. Soros also held a number of patents and wrote more than 100 technical articles on the transportation of materials and related shipping design issues.

“His genius, which was really reflected in his work, was really a function of seeing what everyone was seeing and finding new ways to solve interesting problems,” said Peter Soros.

Soros also drew upon his own immigrant biography in establishing with his wife the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans in 1997. The foundation’s $75 million endowment funds graduate education for immigrants and the children of immigrants.

Soros was born Paul Schwartz in Hungary in 1926. His father changed the family name to Soros a decade later, in response to growing anti-Semitism.

Growing up, Soros was a talented athlete who skied for the Hungarian national team.

“He was quite a good athlete and very much the gentleman athlete,” said Peter Soros, noting his father broke his leg a number of times and lost a kidney in a skiing accident. “He had a competitive spirit.”

But an injury kept him from competing in the 1948 Olympics, his son said, and that same year, Soros immigrated to the U.S.

He won a scholarship to St. Lawrence University in northern New York in exchange for coaching the school’s ski team and later earned a graduate degree from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University in New York City.

“He was very elegant, very gentle, very astute,” said Peter Soros. “He was incredibly widely read, very up on all forms of history and, you know, a very good companion and a very good conversationalist.”

Soros met his wife, Daisy, who had also fled Hungary, at the International House in New York City. They married in 1951 and had two sons, Jeffrey and Peter.

Soros was four years older than his brother, George, and the two became very close upon arriving in the U.S.

Though his politics were progressive, Soros did not share his younger brother’s political activism, Peter Soros said.

He was involved culturally, underwriting for years the Midsummer Night Swing at the Lincoln Center and supporting the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera.

Soros is survived by his wife, brother, two sons, a daughter-in-law, four grandchildren and a step-granddaughter.

A memorial service was scheduled for June 27 at the Lincoln Center.