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Professor Pays Ultimate Tribute to Prized Student

April 15, 1989|MICHAEL GRANBERRY | Times Staff Writer

"It made me feel really proud," she said. "The paper was so important to Alex. But he, too, would have been surprised by Professor Bertram's contribution. It would have meant so much to him, maybe even embarrassed him a little. He was shy about things like that. But, in the end, he would have been thrilled."

Her husband had an intense drive to see something through, to get it done, and, in the end, she said, that would have left him ecstatic. Even in death, Barany's paper got finished.

Klein misses her husband, as does their son, Aaron Barany, now 2 1/2. The death of a father hasn't struck home with one so young, but at first, Klein did notice confusion. Aaron would toddle to the car and look back, sensing that it must be time to pick up Dad from work. Now, he stares at pictures of his father and says simply, "Daddy."

Barany was fascinated with sub-tropical plants and, along with his wife, was a member of the California Rare Fruit Growers Assn. Bertram said rare fruit conformed to a theme--Barany preferred the unusual, the esoteric, the extraordinary, in his work and in his life. The professor thought the gesture of finishing a student's paper a fitting match to a man whose talents, in every way possible, towered above the norm.

"It's hard to put into words what type of mark Alex wanted to leave on the world," Klein said. "He was very concerned with environment, with his work, with doing a good job. It was so important to him to live. . . . He so wanted not to have a negative impact on the Earth. And, to the end, he was true to that, in every way."

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