(Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series about the Jewish inductees to the Allderdice Hall of Fame this year.)
Longtime Pittsburgh CPA, Farrell Rubenstein, was one of five honorees at the Allderdice Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies this month.
A 1948 graduate of Allderdice, Rubenstein and his family moved to Squirrel Hill from Steubenville at the beginning of his freshman year there. It took his father six months to find a house, as it was 1944 and the country was embroiled fighting World War II.
Rubenstein, now 83, received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Pittsburgh. After a two-year stint in the Army as a noncommissioned officer, working as an Army audit agent from 1953 to 1955, he went on to begin a distinguished 35-five year accounting career at Touche Ross (now Deloitte and Touche), where he rose in the ranks to become the managing partner of the Pittsburgh office.
He also spent four years in New York City where he was the national director of tax and the associate managing partner of the firm.
“It was a very exciting time,” Rubenstein said. “I was traveling all over the world, to Europe, the Far East. I always enjoyed what I was doing. I had very few low moments. I liked to get up in the morning and go to work.”
He also sat on the Touche Ross Board of Directors and management committee, and he served as president of the professional society, the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs, as well as a member of the governing council of the American Institute of CPAs.
Rubenstein has the distinction of being only one of two Jewish managing partners of a “Big Eight” (with mergers, now “Big Four”) accounting firm in Pittsburgh — a distinction he says that holds true to this day.
“In the whole history of major international accounting firms in Pittsburgh, going back 125 years, there were only two Jewish people who ever managed a Pittsburgh office,” he said. The other Jewish managing partner was employed at now-defunct Arthur Andersen.
As part of the partnership agreement, Rubenstein was faced with mandatory retirement in 1990 at the age of 62, but he was ready to start the next phase of life.
And if retirement conjures up images of inactivity, perhaps “retirement” isn’t the right word.
Rubenstein transferred his energies into multiple board memberships, starting with the University of Pittsburgh, where he sat for 19 years, including a nine-year term as chairman of the Health Sciences Committee, before becoming chairman of the board for three years. That led to him to becoming chairman of the board of various local hospitals, including Montefiore, Eye and Ear and Western Psychiatric. He became very much involved in the ultimate formation of UPMC.
“I did everything but perform surgery,” he quipped.
After a career in accounting and a post-retirement foray into the medical field as a board member, perhaps delving into the law was the next natural step. Rubenstein has served for the American Arbitration Association, handling at least 75 arbitrations over the years.
Financial consulting, sitting on the boards of the Central Blood Bank and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, ultimately becoming the chairman of the board of both institutions, and sitting on the board of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, rounded out an active post-retirement life.
Rubenstein and his wife of almost 58 years, Nancy, spend half of the year in Scottsdale, Ariz. His daughter, also a CPA, and her family live in Denver, while his son is a professor at Harvard Law School. He still sits on the board of Giant Eagle, and he is an avid reader of nonfiction and a history buff.
“I’ve lived in very good times in this country, for Jewish people and for all people, and it’s been a good life,” Rubenstein said, reflecting on his career. “I’ve been very fortunate in being able to do well in my career and do all kinds of things in the community; it’s been a good run.”
(Hilary Daninhirsch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)