Dr. Leon Kilbertz"l
Writen by Andrew Pakula
August 17, 2003
Although I had heard so much about him, I first met Leon face to face at the time of my father's death in 1986. My mother needed him and he came. That's the kind of friend he was. What little family we have left were half way across the world, and mother and I were almost alone in our sorrows. Leon came and made it better.
Leon and my parents were from Plock, but they hadn't known each other well before the war. The friendship between the two couples blossomed after getting together in Florida in the mid 1970s. Young Danny was sent to fetch my parents from their motel for supper with the Kilberts. They discovered that they enjoyed each other's company and had so much to talk about. During their stays in Florida they walked together, talked together, ate together and laughed together. They drank ice cold vodka with Russian bread and herring. My parents couldn't say enough about their new great friends Leon and Elizabeth.
My father and Leon had a lot in common. In spite of the great winds of war and political violence, they had both prevailed and attained the highest level of academic accomplishment and professional achievement. During their careers, they participated in pioneering developments which revolutionized their respective disciplines. In my father's case it was molecular biology and genetic engineering; in Leon's operations research and linear programming.
As my father's health deteriorated, so did his ability to walk, but he continued to love his conversations and times with the Kilberts. After he died, my mother continued to go to Florida and I started to visit her there for a week or two at a time. A recent widow, she drew much comfort from her special friends Leon and Elizabeth. It didn't take long after getting to know them for me to consider the Kilberts as special friends as well.
As one who enjoys a good conversation as much as my father did, I quickly came to appreciate the pleasure of Leon's company. Walking along the ocean, I would present to him with great passion my convictions about the superiority of the Canadian society to that of the US. Invariably, he would respond with thoughtfulness, intelligence, and grace. He was impressively knowledgeable about a wide range of subjects and kept himself well informed.
His greatest gift was Elizabeth - Ma. Theirs was a wonderful marriage. They knew so well how to take care of each other. During his last sickness, she gave him everything and more.
He treated everyone equally and with respect. He was the kind of man who brought others together. He was a giving and kind man. I miss him.
Voices from the Abyss Letters and Essays Edited by Dr. Leon Kilbert
Last Updated August 19th, 2003