Biography Of Paul Wilbur Klipsch
By Eva Belle Klipsch 560808


PROLOG 190612

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In 1934 at the age of 30, Paul W. Klipsch received his graduate degree from Leland Stanford University. His plan was to enter the collegiate teaching field. His “bio” or “resume” published in the JAIEE in February 1934 read as follows:

Paul’s biography started strong, and continued to grow throughout his life. A book was written late in his life, but even that does not capture the breadth of his achievements. 

In 1956 a “Mr. Merrill” made a request to Belle Klipsch for PWK’s biography*. Naturally PWK jumped in to assist her.  One of the greatest treasures so far discovered in the PWK Archives are some carbon copies (remember those?) of the draft responses to that request. What follows is a unique glimpse into PWK’s history documented at that time. Paul was 52. 

Again, the documents are drafts with “notes in the margins”, so to speak. Every effort has been made to replicate the layout, “unusual” capitalized letters, and “rough syntax” of the originals. A very few miss-spelled words have been corrected. 

There is a wealth of information that has largely been lost to the public. We may be labeled as a bit sadistic, but the release will come in installments over the next year. 

Stay tuned, and enjoy this enlightening view from the couple.

*  KHMA is not aware of this coming to print, nor exactly who Mr. Merrill was. It is of great interest, and will be researched as time allows. If you can add to this story, please do.


PART 1

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Vital Statistics: Born 9 March 1904, Elkhart, Indiana

Parents:  Minna Eddy Klipsch and Oscar Klipsch

Childhood spent in Lafayette, Indiana, Silver City, New Mexico and Lordsburg, New Mexico. 

Graduated from El Paso High School 1922.

Graduated from New Mexico Agriculture and Mechanical College, Mesilla Park, New Mexico 1926, majoring in E.E.

Went to work for General Electric Co. 1926

Went to Chile, South America, 1928

Married 8 December, 1928

Returned to United States September 1931.

Entered Leland Stanford University for graduate course 1932

Received Engineers Degree, two years of work, in 1934

Worked in Houston for oil prospecting companies, seismograph work, research, Patent work, 1934 to 1941.

Entered United States Army for active duty August 1941 as 2/lt.

Was returned to active reserve status Dec. 1945 as Major

During the War he was at Aberdeen, Jefferson, and Southwestern Proving Grounds

He now [1956] has rank of Lt. Col.

Took up residence in Hope, Arkansas in March 1946 where he still resides [1956]

Belongs to [1956] Presbyterian Church, Lodge Progress No. 812 in Tocopilla, Chile, Whitfield 239 in Hope, Ark., Scottish Rite, Scimitar Temple in Little Rock, and the Sojourners.  Airplane Owners and Pilots Association, Institute of Radio Engineers, American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Acoustical Society of America, Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi, National Rifle Association, American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Acoustical Society of America, Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi, National Rifle Association,


PART 2

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After his father’s death he and his mother moved to Lordsburg, New Mexico where she taught school and Paul joined the Boy Scouts.  During this time Paul became interested in astronomy and worked in the summer at Lowell Observatory at Flagstaff, New Mexico [she meant Arizona].  He went with the group to Mexico and helped set up for an eclipse of the sun.

He and his mother also toured to Denver and Colorado Springs, visiting Pike’s Peak.  So he had many occasions to observe railroads.

During his father’s life he taught Paul to shoot, a sport which Paul has followed and made contributions to the art.  He does not care for hunting but likes target shooting, a highly competitive game.

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After his mother had her degree the two moved to El Paso where she taught Spanish in the High School.  Paul graduated from there in 1922.  He was active in Boy Scout work in El Paso, playing his cornet in the band and doing all the things Boy Scouts do.  In El Paso he built his first radio receiver and became a “Ham”.  From that time on he has always has something in the radio line abuilding.


PART 3

Paul tells this on himself:  He maintains that he graduated 101 in a class of 101 students.  Then in college he “found” himself and was on the honor roll the four years in college.  Boy makes good!  He had a second hand car which he maintained himself, doing all engine repairs and maintenance.  Along with all of this he played in the college band, again the cornet.

Upon graduation from New Mexico Agriculture and Mechanical College in 1926, Paul received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering, and his commission as a second lieutenant in the Reserves of the United States Army.

During college years, he was on the team that went to Camp Perry to shoot in the national Rifle competition.


PART 4

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In 1926 he went to work at Schenectady, N.Y. for General Electric Company, at the magnificent sum of about $100 a month! He was in the Test Section there for a while, then was transferred to Erie, Pa. to help work on Electric Locomotives, which was along the line of his first “love”. These locomotives were to go to the Anglo-Chilean Consolidated Nitrate Company in Tocopilla, Chile. So Paul applied for the position with that company to maintain the locomotives which he received.

He signed the usual three year contract and in April 1, 1928 came to El Paso, Texas to visit his mother before leaving for South America. Because shortly after he came to his mother’s home, he saw a neighbor girl and fell in love at first sight. As usual He did not know what 1 April arrival (April Fool’s Day) had in store for him. He knew his own mind and with singleness of purpose convinced her to go to Chile with him.

He had only a few days in which to accomplish his mission. Parental interference caused him to leave the girl at home until he could be assured of quarters more adequate than a room in the bachelor’s quarters. Result, the wedding took place on 8 December 1928, on the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile just before midnight, with the Ship’s Orchestra playing the wedding marches and other proper music. The captain of the Santa Barbara, Grace Line, Captain Renault performed the marriage ceremony. (The Bride carried red roses, since nobody had thought of bridal flowers and all the dining room had to offer were the red roses.) So, as always with Mr. Klipsch, the “unusual” was already becoming a habit. Most of courtship was by mail.

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PART 5

During the years in Chile, his hobbies included golf, 16 MM Movies, swimming.  NOT gardening – except to measure the growth of the Kentucky Wonder climbing beans up the pole each 24 hours, and eating the garden products.

He joined the Lodge Progress No. 812 R.G.L. of Scotland in Antofagasta, Chile taking the degrees via [Uncompleted].

He and his wife returned with Lobo, Belgian Shepherd dog, and all belongings to the United States in September 1931 via tanker with passenger accommodations for 6, landing at San Pedro, Cal., going on to El Paso by train and learning enroute that the bank with Paul’s savings in it had closed.  He did not worry too much as we could do nothing about it.  (A philosophy he still uses, as “it saves ulcers”.)


PART 6

Back to Chile: He had his bride bring a trunk load of radio parts, and he built a shortwave receiving set and had a speaker in a box in the living room. We also had a portable record player. We used both. After he completed the radio receiver we got all the radio programs that were beamed to the Byrd Expedition at the South Pole from New York.

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After visiting relatives in Texas and getting his reserve commission reinstated, he turned to “job hunting”, and ended up going “back to school”. On 1 January 1932 Paul, wife and Lobo arrived in Palo Alto, California. Paul registered for graduate work in Electrical Engineering. Most of his work was under Dr. Frederick M. Terman in Radio. It was here in the Radio Lab that one of his co-workers mentioned that “any speaker sounds better when placed in a corner”. However we never tried it in our house at that time. We had an old radio and some number of speakers and boxes to use with the radio. I believe this was the time we heard our first symphony orchestra, via radio out of San Francisco.

We had both heard many Band Concerts, live and on Radio. For years Paul’s favorite music was Band; now symphony became a first.

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Audio was a hobby and then a profession, but I still consider myself as an amateur in that an amateur is one who practices his art for love.
— Paul W. Klipsch