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Leon Riebman, 87, Co-Founder of American Electronics Laboratories

January 10, 2008
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Leon Riebman, 87, an electrical engineer and entrepreneur, died Dec. 20. He was a resident of Penn Valley.

Riebman was the president, chief executive officer and director of AEL Industries, Inc., a premier electronic-defense-system manufacturer.

As a naval officer during World War II, Riebman was based at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, where he developed radar systems. Following his Navy service, he returned to the University of Pennsylvania for advanced studies, and to serve on the staff as a research associate and instructor.

In 1950, Riebman and two fellow professors -- Conrad J. Fowler and Robert Goodman -- decided to leave Penn's Moore School of Electrical Engineering to become entrepreneurs. Since Riebman had the highest salary, he continued to teach while the other two worked full-time on their new venture, American Electronics Laboratories, Inc. Living expenses came from Riebman's salary, split three ways. At night, Riebman would visit physicians and other potentials investors to sell stock in the fledgling company.

AEL Industries grew to the point where it employed close to 3,000 people locally and in five other states, as well as in Israel and around the world. It was among the first U.S. corporations to develop a subsidiary in Israel.

Riebman's interest in research and development resulted in 10 patents. In 1966, he was named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He was chairman of the science-based Industries Committee of the Prime Minister's Council for Israel's Economic Development.

Additionally, he served on many corporate and nonprofit boards, including Ampal-American Israel Corporation, the Bank and Trust Company of Old York Road, Friends of the Hebrew University and the American Technion Society.

In his spare time, Riebman loved playing tennis. He helped establish the tennis club in Loveladies on Long Beach Island, N.J., and he won many tournaments there.

He is survived by daughter Barbara Riebman; son Robert Riebman; sisters Edith Riebman and Florence Dekosky; brother Jesse Riebman; and three grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, the former Claire Edeson.

Memorial contributions can be made to: the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, 223 N. Highland Ave., Merion Station, PA 19066.

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