The University of the Virgin Islands mourns the passing of Trustee Emeritus Bernard Paiewonsky, who served on UVI’s Board of Trustees for 13 years. He passed away Aug. 17, in Bethesda, Md.
Funeral services were held Aug. 19 at the Congregation B’Nai Tzedek in Potomac, Md., followed by interment at King David Memorial Park, Falls Church, Va.
Paiewonsky was born and raised on St. Thomas and was the son of Ethel Paiewonsky and former Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky, who founded UVI and for whom UVI’s St. Thomas Campus Library is named.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bernard Paiewonsky earned a master’s degree in mathematics from Indiana University, a master’s degree in engineering from Princeton University, and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering from Princeton. He had a long and distinguished career as an aeronautical engineer, mathematician, scientist and researcher.
After many years at the Institute for Defense Analysis and work at the White House’s Office of Technology, Paiewonsky served as deputy for advanced technology for the Secretary of the Air Force.
UVI Board of Trustees Chair Henry Smock said in a statement from UVI on Paiewonsky’s passing, “Board committees and the board benefited from his experience gained during his service in the federal government and his knowledge of higher education as an active alumnus of one of the major universities in the United States.”
An avid glider pilot, Paiewonsky contributed over many years his time and energy to the Mid-Atlantic Soaring Association and was a cofounder and editor of the Journal Technical Soaring. He was an active member of the MIT Club of Washington, D.C., served on the board of Congregation Bet Chesed, and was the first instructor of his Yiddish Language Group.
Former UVI Board Chair Auguste Rimpel said Paiewonsky “served with distinction as a member of the Board of UVI.” Rimpel said Paiewonsky was chairman of the planning committee when UVI developed and implemented its first strategic plan. “I could always depend on him to bring a balanced perspective of the future development of the university,” Rimpel said.
“He was committed to seeing the legacy of his father continue to be a success. The board recognized this in naming him an emeritus member," Rimpel said.
Paiewonsky was appointed to the UVI Board of Trustees in 1996 by former Gov. Roy L. Schneider and completed his service in December 2009. He served during the tenure of UVI Presidents Orville Kean, LaVerne Ragster and briefly during the tenure of David Hall. He was a member of the development, planning, ad hoc hotel, and the executive committees of the board, and served for six years as the chairman of the development committee and also six years as chairman of the planning committee.
Alexander Moorhead, former board chairman and present board vice chairman, spoke of Paiewonsky’s dedication to the Board of Trustees. “He could be depended upon to attend all meetings of the board, as well as meetings of committees of the board on which he served, and, with him, there was no beating around the bush on the subject that was being discussed – he stated his position plainly.”
In 2010, Paiewonsky was granted trustee emeritus status in honor of his distinguished service to the Board of Trustees. In 2012, after retiring from the board, Paiewonsky and his sister, attorney Joyce Adolfsen, established the Ralph and Ethel Paiewonsky Scholarship Fund with a $10,000 contribution. The endowed fund supports students who are residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands currently pursuing a degree in nursing or business.
UVI President David Hall said, “Trustee Paiewonsky was extremely helpful to me when I became President in 2009. He met with me and shared his insights about what I needed to focus on in order to move the university forward.”
Hall said Paiewonsky’s advice served him well. “I deeply appreciated his wisdom while he was on the board and even after he stepped down. His love and passion for UVI were sincere and he has left an indelible mark upon this institution and upon me.”
In their statement, the Board of Trustees and the UVI family extended condolences to Paiewonsky’s wife, Mary; his daughters, Adrienne, Betty and Melissa’ his sister, Joyce Adolfsen; numerous grandchildren, nieces and nephews; as well as the Paiewonsky and Cassinelli families on St. Thomas, saying he will be greatly missed.