Obituary: Paul R. Yoder Jr., 89

Paul R. Yoder, Jr., 89 passed away peacefully on Thursday, May 26, 2016 at his home in Norwalk, surrounded by his loving family.

Paul, a former long-time resident of Wilton, was the husband of the late S. Elizabeth Yoder (Betty Yoder) for 58 years. Paul was preceded in death by his wife and his sister Miriam Y. Brumbaugh (Gene) of Pensacola, Fla.

He is survived by his four children David L. Yoder (Evelyn), of Monroe; Martha A. Yoder, of Newtown Square, Pa.; Carol S. Yoder, of Norwalk; and Alan D. Yoder (April Anne), of Norwalk; his five grandchildren Jill M. Yoder, of Norwalk; Emily Y. Reed (Stefan), of Boston; Rachel T. Yoder (Dan Usen), of Cranston, R.I.; Sarah Beth Y. Romanik (David), of Ardmore, Pa.; and Devan R. Yoder, of Norwalk; and his two great-grandchildren Cecilia A. Romanik, of Ardmore, Pa.; and Myers C. Reed, of Boston.

Born on February 6, 1927, Paul was a prominent opto-mechanical engineer who designed optical components and instruments used by the U.S. Military, NASA, the U.S. government for spy satellite intelligence gathering during the Cold War (the now declassified KH-9 Hexagon Spy Satellite Project), and the medical community for laser eye surgery. He was the co-founder of Tauton Technologies Inc., which pioneered the research and development of human corneal reshaping using Excimer lasers as a means of correcting refractive vision errors – the foundation for what is now known as LASIK vision correction.

A physicist by training (BS Physics, Juniata College, 1947 and MS Physics, Penn State University, 1950), Paul believed it was his life’s mission to impart knowledge to others. Both the Optical Society of America (OSA) and the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) awarded him “Fellow” status. He published seven research books, 60 technical papers, and was awarded 14 U.S. and several foreign patents. He taught opto-mechanical engineering courses for SPIE, U.S. government agencies and industry leaders in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

He is the recipient of the OSA’s Engineering Excellence Award, the SPIE Directors Award (1996 and 1997), and the SPIE George W. Goddard Award (1999).

Paul was, without question, a brilliant engineer whose creative way of looking at the world was the catalyst for many innovations in optics and laser vision correction, but he believed his greatest contribution was to his family. Together with his beloved wife Betty, he taught his children and grandchildren to be generous, caring, and always responsive to the needs of others. This legacy will continue as his family teaches the same to his great-grandchildren.

As a devout Christian, Paul’s life was a testament to his faith and his God. A long-standing member of the Wilton Congregational Church, he was a member of the choir and served several terms as a deacon. He valued the many friendships he cultivated over the years and truly lived “the golden rule.”

The generosity both Paul and Betty taught their children is evident by the private charitable trust they established to honor their parents – The Paul and Betty Yoder Foundation. This organization, established in 2000, provides educational grants to women in transition (

In celebration of his life, a memorial service will be held on Sunday, June 5, 2016 beginning at 5 p.m., at the Wilton Congregational Church, 70 Ridgefield Road in Wilton.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Paul’s name to either the Wilton Congregational Church, or the Paul and Betty Yoder Foundation (P.O. Box 1065, Edgemont, PA 19028-1065).

The Harding Funeral Home in Westport is assisting the family with the arrangements. Condolences for the family may be left online at