College mourns death of Donald S. Feigenbaum '46

Publication Date

Donald S. Feigenbaum ’46, who with his brother, Armand ’42, founded a renowned Pittsfield-based international systems engineering firm, died March 5, 2013. He was 87.

He was executive vice president and chief operating officer of General Systems Co., a firm that designs and helps implement operational systems for corporations and governments worldwide.

Donald S. Feigenbaum ’46

The brothers have long been involved with Union, both as benefactors and advisors. For more than a dozen years, they hosted the Feigenbaum Forum, a gathering in which academicians discussed characteristics of a new generation of leaders and how better to integrate liberal arts and other studies. Union’s administration building, where their portraits hang in the first-floor lobby, was dedicated in their honor in 1996.

“All of us at Union College mourn the loss of Don Feigenbaum,” said President Stephen C. Ainlay. “He loved Union College and always acknowledged the profound difference it made in his life. He was a loyal ‘son of Union’ who gave back to the College in many ways. He was also a friend and I will miss him very much.”

The College honored Donald’s achievements with an honorary doctorate in 1996. In 2003 he was awarded the “Outstanding Engineering Alumnus” award. Among his many other awards, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Massachusetts, and a Doctor of Science from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Donald Feigenbaum’s work and publications in the field of systems technology profoundly influenced the origin and application of systems engineering principles that have fundamentally changed modern management practices. His approach consistently increased customer value, lowered operating costs, and improved innovations at many major companies throughout the world.

Donald Feigenbaum graduated from Union in 1946 after serving in the United States Navy. He joined General Electric and was rapidly promoted to manager of the company’s jet engine business. He left in 1961 to become general manager of International Systems Company. In 1968, the brothers founded General Systems Company.

Donald and Armand co-authored several books. Their 2003 The Power of Management Capital is in essence “a rule book for management and leadership innovation in the 21st century.” The book considers the basic drivers of productivity and profitability and integrates tested management concepts into a single holistic approach. In 2009 the brothers built upon their earlier books by assembling a roadmap to promote constant innovation and growth, The Power of Management Innovation. Throughout the world, the Feigenbaums continue to successfully implement their fundamental principle, that “management is not an art, it is a science.”

A funeral is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 8, at Temple Anshe Amunim on Broad Street in Pittsfield. Arrangements were with Flynn and Dagnoli-Bencivenga Funeral Home.