Pfender, Emil

Pfender, Emil

May 25, 1925 – January 28, 2016
Age 90 of West St. Paul, passed away peacefully on January 28, 2016. Preceded in death by parents Vincenz and Anna Pfender; brother Albert (Thea) Pfender; sisters Paula (Karl) Slessiona and Maria (Sepp) Jerg; brother-in-law Heinrich Slessiona. Survived by wife of 61 years Maja Pfender; children Roland (Mary Jo) Pfender, Norbert (Bette) Pfender, Corinne (Tim) Noyes; grandchildren Kurt Pfender, Cass (Dave) Chapman, Loren Pfender, Maia Noyes, Julia Noyes, Clara Noyes; great-granddaughter, Cassidy Chapman; sister Fransiska Slessiona, and numerous nieces and nephews. Emil was born in Dietershausen, a small farming village in southern Germany on May 25, 1925. He was united in marriage to Maja Staiger in 1954 and received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University of Stuttgart in 1959. He immigrated with his wife and children to the U.S. in 1964 to join the University of Minnesota. Since 1967 he served as director of the High Temperature and Plasma Laboratory, leading the plasma program to become one of the most highly regarded plasma research laboratories in the world. He formally retired from the University in 2000, but remained up to the time of his death an active faculty member co-advising several Ph.D. students. Emil received many honors and professorships including being elected into the National Academy of Engineering in 1986. Among his awards are the Alexander von Humboldt Award of the German Government, the Gold Honorary F. Krizik Medal for Merits in the Field of Technical Sciences of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Honorary Doctor’s degree from the Technical University of Ilmenau, Germany, and the Plasma Chemistry Award from the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry. He co-founded the Journal Plasma Chemistry and Plasma Processing and co-authored Thermal Plasmas: Fundamentals and Applications, a textbook that remains a standard reference source for researchers in the field. His research has led to many patents. In addition to a wonderful career, Emil enjoyed spending time with his family and tending to his tree farm at the lake where he and Maja planted 7,000 trees. He was an avid pilot and hunter and a connoisseur of fine wine. Emil had an appropriate joke for all occasions and was known to his friends and colleagues as a true gentleman, unfailingly gracious and generous. Memorial Mass will be held on March 19, 2016 at Church of the Assumption Catholic Church, 51 West 7th St, St Paul at 11:00 AM. Visitation 1 hour prior at 10:00 AM. Luncheon immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations preferred to: The Emil Pfender Mechanical Engineering Fellowship Fund. P.O. Box 860266, Minneapolis, MN 55486-0266. Gifts should be made out to the University of Minnesota Foundation. (Published in the Star Tribune on February 7, 2016)