Daughter honors parents' devotion to Purdue

Hugh (BSCE ’53, MSCE ’54) and Audrey Kleasen (BSAG ’52) both hailed from Buffalo, New York, but they didn’t meet until after they arrived on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus. The Kleasens loved their time at the University and believed in the transformative power of higher education as a pathway to an enriching life.


Hugh and Audrey Kleasen as students at Purdue and in 2018. They married on June 6, 1953, and together they enjoyed 66 1/2 years of marriage.

Hugh (BSCE ’53, MSCE ’54) and Audrey Kleasen (BSAG ’52) both hailed from Buffalo, New York, but they didn’t meet until after they arrived on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus.

“My dad was renting a room on a farm in Tippecanoe County and he went looking for a meal at the Wesley Foundation,” said Kim Kleasen, the couple’s daughter. “My mother was there serving dinner and that was the start of their story.”

Married in 1953 after Hugh finished his bachelor’s degree, the Kleasens eventually settled in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, where they raised their family. Kim Kleasen remembers rooting for the Boilermakers during football season. Her mother taught her the Engineer’s Yell, chanted by students during the 40s and 50s.

“E to the X, DY DX
E to the X, DX!
Cosine, secant, tangent,
Sine, 3.14159!
Square root, cube root, BTU,
Slipstick, slide rule,
Yeah Purdue!”

The Kleasens loved their time at the University and believed in the transformative power of higher education as a pathway to an enriching life.

“Each of them came from families with a legacy of education, even though neither had families of great means or wealth,” Kim Kleasen said. “As my parents moved through their lives and developed a bigger sense of philanthropy, they chose to fund a scholarship for civil engineering students and made provisions in their estate plans to fund a professorship in civil engineering.”

Following her parents’ deaths, Kim Kleasen has been collaborating with the civil engineering development team to realize the couple’s vision for their Purdue legacy.

“Purdue was a very special place for both of my parents,” she said. “They returned to campus often. By establishing a named professorship in civil engineering, they will always be tied to Purdue. It’s gratifying to me to carry out one of my parents’ biggest wishes.”