My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee. – Joe Librescu
By LAURIE COPANS
April 17, 2007 – The Scrooge Report Post
The e-mails arrived soon after Marlena Librescu learned her husband had been shot to death – from students telling how he barricaded the doorway of his Virginia Tech classroom and saved their lives.
Liviu Librescu, an Israeli engineering and math lecturer, was one of several foreign victims of Monday’s shootings, which left 32 people dead, plus the gunman – South Korean national Cho Seung-Hui, 23.
“My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee,” Librescu’s son, Joe Librescu, said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. “Students started opening windows and jumping out.”
News agencies are also reporting that Librescu was a Holocaust survivor.
Also among the victims was G.V. Loganathan, a 51-year-old engineering professor from India, his brother G.V. Palanivel said from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Peruvian student Daniel Perez Cueva, 21, was also killed while in his French class, said his mother, Betty Cueva.
Loganathan, who was born in the southern Indian city of Chennai, had been a professor at Virginia Tech since 1982.
“For us it was like an electric shock. We’ve totally collapsed today,” his brother said. “Our parents are elderly and have broken down completely.”
Librescu, 76, had been a professor at Virginia Tech for 20 years and was widely respected in his field, his son said. “His work was his life in a sense,” Joe Librescu said. “That was a good place for him to practice his research.”
Librescu and his wife immigrated to Israel from Romania in 1978, then moved to Virginia in 1985 for a sabbatical and ended up staying, said Joe Librescu, who himself studied at the school from 1989-1994.
The academic community in Romania also was mourning Librescu’s death.
“It is a great loss,” said Ecaterina Andronescu, rector of the Polytechnic University in Bucharest, where Librescu graduated with a degree in mechanics and aviation construction in 1953. “We have immense consideration for the way he reacted and defended his students with his life.”
At the university, people placed flowers on a table holding his picture and a lit candle. “We remember him as a great specialist in aeronautics. He left behind hundreds of prestigious papers,” said professor Nicolae Serban Tomescu.
Librescu, who specialized in composite structures and aeroelasticity, published extensively and received numerous awards for his work. He received a doctorate from the Bucharest-based Academy of Sciences in 1969, and an honorary degree from the Bucharest Polytechnic University in 2000.
He also received several NASA grants and taught courses at the University “La Sapienza” in Rome and at the Tel Aviv University in Israel.
Associated Press writers Gavin Rabinowitz and Muneeza Naqvi in New Delhi, Alexandru Alexe in Bucharest, Romania, and Leslie Josephs in Lima, Peru, contributed to this article.