Louis W. Kleine, 87, alumnus, beloved professor, leader and friend to the New Mexico State University College of Engineering, passed away on Thursday, May 15, 2008. He was born Jan. 5, 1921, in Cardon, Okla.
Louis proudly served his country from 1939-1946. During World War II, he achieved the rank of chief warrant officer two in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He served as an aircraft engineer for the P-38 Lightening. He served in the Pacific theater and participated in four major campaigns for which he received decorations.
Lou attended the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (renamed New Mexico State University) where he received baccalaureate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering in 1954 and 1957, respectively. In 1963, Professor Kleine was selected by the NMSU administration to found the Department of Engineering Technology within the College of Engineering–the first program of its kind in the state of New Mexico. Through Lou’s strong leadership, the program was immediately successful and the department now has the largest undergraduate enrollment in the College of Engineering. Lou served as department head until his retirement after 30 years of service at the university in 1984.
He loved teaching and providing opportunities for students and graduates, always taking time to assist them with his friendly, funny and happy demeanor. He was an outstanding teacher, mentor and friend and was a positive influence to thousands of students during his tenure at NMSU. Throughout his retirement, former students from all over the country have contacted Lou to thank him for the education that they received. Lou created a legacy of a student-friendly tradition within the department of engineering technology that continues today. During both his academic and his retirement, Lou Kleine simply made NMSU a better place.
After his retirement, Lou continued to support the department and the College of Engineering with active involvement and support as an emeritus professor. Lou took great pride in he history and events in the College of Engineering and university. He has conducted several oral histories with other prominent members of the N MSU community, which are housed in the university’s archives. The Louis and Senith Kleine Scholarship in Engineering Technology, established in 1987, is awarded annually to a deserving student.
He is survived by his loving wife, Doris Jolly; two daughters, Donna Barry and husband, Fred, of Dixon Calif.; Chris McLaughlin and husband, Jim, of Longview, Wash.; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Memorial services were held on May 19 in Las Cruces.
The family requests that remembrances be made as donations to the Lou and Senith Kleine Scholarship Fund at the NMSU College of Engineering, or the Mesilla Valley Hospice-La Posada, Las Cruces.