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Paul Kleinheider, 74: Simon And Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'

Courtesy of Deborah Kalish

Updated June 15, 2021 at 1:24 PM ET

More than 600,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.

Paul loved Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Paul's childhood was challenging. He put himself through college by waiting tables on the weekends. He was drafted during the Vietnam War and took part in officer candidate school, where he pushed through very difficult training to realize his best self. He left the army with strength and confidence and became a successful businessman. He never forgot "from whence he came" and wanted to leave the world a better place than when he entered. Paul believed education should be available to all children and did much to provide assistance to children in need. I think Paul considered education the bridge to all that was possible.

I loved Simon and Garfunkel and was fortunate enough to have seen them at Symphony Hall in Boston when I was in college. I have a distinct memory of them singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" — and can visualize it as if it were yesterday. Not too long ago, Garfunkel was performing in Princeton, and Paul and I went to see him. He was more or less in his "poetry stage" and we decided it was best to remember him for his music. When Paul became ill and was hospitalized, I was able to Zoom into his room. Although he was unable to speak, or even to respond, I played "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with the hope that he would enjoy it. When I listen to it now, it's somewhat bittersweet. —Deborah Kalish, partner

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.