Transportation 05

Leon W. Zelby

March 26, 1925 ~ November 9, 2020 (age 95)

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Leon W. Zelby, 95, of Norman, passed away Monday, November 9, 2020.  Born in Sosnowiec, Poland in March 1925, to Herschl and Helen Zylberberg, he grew up in Poland and survived nearly two years in the Auschwitz/Birkenau concentration camp. 


After emigrating to the United States in February 1946, he lived in the Philadelphia area and served in the Pennsylvania National Guard.  He worked for several years and then went to the University of Pennsylvania.  Leon graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering with distinction in 1956, and was the varsity fencer of the year in 1955.  He earned a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology in 1958.  He returned to the University of Pennsylvania and received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1961, consulting during that period for Lincoln Laboratories and RCA.


Upon graduation, he became an assistant professor, then an associate professor of Electrical Engineering at Penn.  He moved to Norman in 1967 as professor and director of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science for several years.  Dr. Zelby was then a professor at OU until his retirement, was the editor of engineering publications and was the author of numerous scholarly papers.  Dr. Zelby was also a champion bridge player, an avid reader as well as a pilot and flight instructor. 


He is survived by and lovingly remembered by his wife, Rachel; daughter, Laurie; son, Andrew; daughter-in-law, Cindy; and grandchildren, Elaine, Karen and Allison Zelby.


A celebration of his life will be held in the future when the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.


Donations may be made in the established Zelby Scholarship Fund in the OU School of Music, College of Fine Arts.


The family would like to express special thanks to Dr. Thomas Merill and Holly Doon RN for their compassionate care given to Leon.


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