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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

LEIMKUEHLER, PAUL ELMER - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

LEIMKUEHLER, PAUL ELMER (22 Aug. 1918-27 Aug. 1993) turned the loss of a leg during WORLD WAR II into a successful prosthetics business and the pioneering hobby of 3-track skiing. The son of Clevelanders Elmer and Clara Leimkuehler, he graduated from West Tech High School and attended Ohio State Univ. Employed as a research engineer for the Tinnerman Products Co., he married Catherine Cowley in 1940. He lost his left leg as the result of a shrapnel wound received during the Battle of the Bulge as a 1st lt. in the U.S. Army's 84th Div. Leimkuehler helped fashion his own artificial limb and, after a brief return to Tinnerman Products following the war, started the Leimkuehler Limb Co. on W. 3d St. in 1948. He became an acknowledged leader in the field, serving as prresident of the Ohio Rehabilitation Assn., the American Orthotics and Prosthetics Assn., and the American Board of Certification. In 1957 he was appointed to the Prosthetics Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Moving his business to Detroit Ave. and W. 46th, he organized a subsidiary supply distributorship, PEL Supply Co., in 1960. Always an avid athlete, Leimkuehler was inspired to take up skiing after watching a film of amputee skiers in Europe. Working with another World War II amputee, Clevelander Stan Zakas, he developed a 1-legged technique with the use of outrigger skis attached to elbow crutches in place of the usual skiers' poles. As the "Father of 3-Track Skiing," he was inducted into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in 1981. Leimkuehler retired from business in 1978, selling the prosthetics company to his sons. Survived by his wife, sons Jon, Robert, and William and daughter Paulette Vaughn, he is buried in Lakewood Park Cemetery.

Last Modified: 10 Jul 1997 05:11:26 PM

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