Liviu Librescu

Liviu Librescu

Hometown: Romania

Age: 76

Location: Norris Hall

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Profile: Liviu Librescu, a professor of engineering and a Holocaust survivor, is being called a hero after students reported that the 76-year-old man barricaded the door to his classroom long enough for them to jump to safety from the upper-story windows of Norris Hall.

Librescu was killed by the gunman, who eventually forced his way into the classroom, according to his son, Joe Librescu, who was interviewed by CNN and the Associated Press. Joe Librescu said his father's students have e-mailed him their accounts of his last minutes.

A Romanian who survived the Holocaust, Librescu became an opponent of communism and moved to Israel. He later immigrated to the United States. Librescu taught at Virginia Tech for 20 years and had an international reputation for his work in aeronautical engineering.

"His research has enabled better aircraft, superior composite materials and more robust aerospace structures," Ishwar K. Puri, the head of the Engineering Science and Mechanics Department, told the AP.

Colleagues said they will miss him.

"He was a very pleasant, jolly fellow who enjoyed joking around a little with the staff," said Wayne Neu, an ocean engineering professor. "An everyone's-friend sort of guy."

Neu said Librescu "was always one with a smile."

He was a joyful man, according to his son. "He had passions for music, for sports, for hiking, for travel. He was a passionate person."

He was killed one day after Holocaust Remembrance Day was observed in the United States and on the day it was observed in Israel.

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu told the AP in a telephone interview from his home outside Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out." -- Kirstin Downey, The Washington Post

© 2007 The Washington Post Company