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Rudy Prokupets, Computer Technology Entrepreneur, 63, Dies

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ruvin D. “Rudy” Prokupets, co-founder of Lenel Systems International, now a division of United Technologies Corp., and a visionary technology entrepreneur, died Tuesday at Strong Memorial Hospital. He was 63.

Mr. Prokupets was best known for creating state-of-the-art computer integrated security systems and building with his wife, Elena Prokupets, the Rochester-based Lenel into an international leader in the emerging field. Today, Lenel has installed more than 20,000 systems. Lenel technology has been used by the U.S. military, world conglomerates, government agencies, and homeland security.

From the beginning Mr. Prokupets and his wife used their success to help philanthropic and cultural institutions across a broad spectrum. Mr. Prokupets, a lifelong lover of opera, was recognized for his generosity with a plaque at the Metropolitan Opera of New York, of which his wife is a current board member.

Mr. Prokupets was a generous supporter of many charities and set up a foundation in support of Rochester-area foundations and Jewish charities. He served on the board of the Jewish Community Federation in Rochester as well as the board of the University of Rochester Medical Center.  Mr. Prokupets put tremendous effort and contributed to various areas of medical research, including Harvard University, Broad Institute, University of Rochester and other medical research centers.

“Rudy Prokupets’ life was a triumph,” said University of Rochester President, Joel Seligman. “He rose from the humblest of circumstances in Russia to achieve great success in United States as a scientist and corporate entrepreneur. He was amazingly bright, a lover of the arts, a truly cultured individual. I rarely enjoyed conversations so much as with Rudy. My heart goes out to Rudy's beloved wife Elena and their family.  Rudy was a valued member of the University of Rochester Medical Center Board.  He will be deeply missed.”

Mr. Prokupets arrived in Rochester as a political refugee from what is now St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1977 with his wife and young son, with no prospects other than his education and his dreams. Mr. Prokupets held a master's degree in electrophysics from the Electrical Engineering Institute in Leningrad and a master’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of Leningrad.  In 1986, Mr. Prokupets and his wife, who has a Ph.D. in computer science and electrical engineering, launched their first company, Edicon, as a division of the Eastman Kodak Co. where Mr. Prokupets worked. Mr. Prokupets is recognized for creating an image compression algorithm for digital images.

Mr. Prokupets was a pioneer in introducing one of the first in the world multi-media software products. Microsoft Corp. was the first user of Lenel’s multi-media and security technology and recognized Mr. Prokupets’ vision and technological advances. 

In addition to his wife, Mr. Prokupets is survived by his son, Daniel Prokupets, and his wife, Bethany Prokupets; three grandchildren, Ella, Samuel, and Haley; a sister, Ida Vanston, and her husband Joseph Vanston; nieces, Inga Vanston and Laura Cameron; father-in-law, Isaac Vilnits; and brother-in-law, Alex Vilnits and his wife, Anna Vilnits.

A memorial service for Mr. Prokupets will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 18, at Temple Beth El, 139 S. Winton Road. Burial will follow in Mt. Hope Cemetery. At the request of the family, there will be no home visitation. Donations in Mr. Prokupets’ memory can be made to the Cardiac Vascular Intensive Care Unit at Strong Memorial Hospital.

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