TAMPA — Even in his 80s, well after he'd retired from his breakthrough work in color television and other technological advances, Robert Dressler kept his mind as sharp as ever.
Instead of crossword and Sudoku puzzles, he did complicated math and physics problems out of science books.
Not wanting to spend his senior years idle, he served in highly influential roles on various University of South Florida foundation and research advisory boards.
On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Dressler was attending an investment committee meeting at USF when he collapsed and died. He was 83.
A few hours later, the school sent out the news in a statement that included condolences from Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and USF president Judy Genshaft, who marveled at Mr. Dressler's generosity and intelligence.
"He was kind of like our own Einstein," said Paul Sanberg, a USF professor and longtime friend.
"He was a genius and one of the nicest and most humble people," Sanberg said. "Even though a lot of important decisions have been made because of him, he really didn't want to get credit. He just wanted to help."
Mr. Dressler held bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Columbia University, later earning an honorary doctorate from USF.
After serving in the Navy in World War II, he was involved in electronic research in television, military electronics, and satellite reconnaissance for the Defense Department. He served on the national committee that formulated the first color television standard for the United States.
In the 1970s, Mr. Dressler became president and chief executive of Crown Industries, a small building materials manufacturer, building it into a major enterprise. From there he joined Raymond James and Associates in 1987, finishing his career as the managing director of corporate finance.
He also contributed to Tampa's Riverwalk project, the Upper Pinellas County Association for Retarded Citizens and the Tampa Jewish Federation. He was a national board member of the Museum of Science and Industry and served on the board of the Florida Orchestra.
Mr. Dressler and his wife, Edith, had three daughters.
"I am the luckiest woman alive to have been his wife for 40 years," Edith Dressler said in the USF news release.
"There's only one Robert Dressler on the planet, and there will never be another like him."