Paul Gustav Klemens, an emeritus professor and former chairman of the University of Connecticut Department of Physics, passed away on July 26 at the age of 87. He had been a resident of Connecticut since 1967, living first in Manchester, then in Storrs until moving to West Hartford in 2011. He was born in 1925 in Vienna, Austria, the son of Jewish parents who owned a textile business supplying yarn to petit point workshops. At age 12, shortly after the Nazi-orchestrated Kristallnacht, his father was arrested and held in a concentration camp. When his father was released, the family fled to Australia in June 1939. As German-speaking immigrants, he and his parents were initially mistrusted by the Australians, but nonetheless operated a successful tomato farm and handbag factory in Mona Vale, a then-rural area near Sydney. He learned to speak English, and, demonstrating an aptitude for mathematics, won a scholarship to the University of Sydney, where he earned B.S. and M.S degrees in physics. In 1948, he was awarded a scholarship to Oxford University in England. Arriving in London following a long and exhausting ocean journey, he was invited to attend a Jewish holiday dinner at the home of a local family. There, he met Ruth Wiener and her family, who were also Holocaust survivors. The couple married in 1950, and after Paul completed his Ph.D., the couple returned to his adopted country of Australia, where he became principal research officer at the National Standards Laboratory. In 1959, they emigrated to the United States, where he joined the Westinghouse Research Laboratories in Pittsburgh, PA, heading a group that worked on an early version of what was later known as “Star Wars” missile defense technology. In 1967, he was appointed chairman of the University of Connecticut physics department, and the family moved to Manchester. During his tenure, he supervised 13 Ph.D. and many other graduate students and worked as a consultant for both private industry (United Technologies) as well as the federal government, including the U.S. Naval Research Lab and the Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. He was the author of several books and numerous scientific papers, as well as the recipient of numerous professional awards. He was an elected member of the Washington, DC-based Cosmos Club, whose members are recognized leaders in the fields of science, literature, arts and politics. Also, he was a fellow with the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics (U.K.) Along with his late wife Ruth, he was an active member of Temple Beth Shalom B’nai Israel in Manchester. When the couple moved to Mansfield in the 1980s, they were engaged in social and philanthropic events within the university community. He is predeceased by his wife Ruth Hannah Wiener Klemens, who died of cancer in 2011, and is survived by his son Michael W. Klemens of Salisbury and daughter-in-law Nicole Klemens of Rye, NY and their sons Daniel and Robert Klemens; his daughter Susan M. Klemens and son-in-law Daniel Root and their daughter Melinda Root of Alexandria, VA; a a sister-in-law Mirjam Finkelstein of London and his brother-in-law Ted Plaut of Madison. He is also survived by three nieces and two nephews: Anthony and Daniel Finkelstein and Tamara Finkelstein Isaacs of London, Julie Plaut Furey and Karen Plaut of West Lafayette, IN.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, July 27 at 1 p.m. at Temple Beth Shalom B’nai Israel, 400 E. Middle Tpke, Manchester, with interment in Temple Beth Shalom Memorial Park, Manchester. Arrangements entrusted to Weinstein Mortuary, Hartford. Shiva will be held at his home: Summerwood, 160 Simsbury Rd, West Hartford, 06117. Friends may extend condolences on Friday following the burial until Shabbat and on Sunday, 12-8:30 p.m. On Sunday, the family will attend the Tisha B’Av afternoon service at Summerwood at 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Ruth and Paul Klemens Endowment Fund (#30951). Please make checks payable to: The UConn Foundation, Inc., 2390 Alumni Drive Unit 3206, Storrs, Conn. 06269. For further information, directions, or to sign the guest book for Paul, visit online at www.weinsteinmortuary.com