“The Word Was Serendipity”
James Dean Welterlen was born on Oct. 10, 1929 to Arthur Leonard and Esther Augusta Welterlen in Edgewood, Iowa. His birth preceded the stock market crash by two weeks and the beginning of the great depression. Despite that, he had an uneventful childhood in this small Middle Western town. He loved swimming, camping and boating, and he became an Eagle Scout at age fourteen. A “lefty,” he excelled in basketball, baseball, music and academic pursuits in school.
As he left his beginnings for college at Iowa State College (now University), serendipity (happy accidents) became the hallmark of his life. First, he was cast opposite the love of his life and wife of 59 years, Patricia Eileen Forsyth in a college production of William Saroyan’s “Time of Your Life”. Then, because the field of mechanical engineering was expected to be overcrowded, he enrolled in the little known and uncrowded field of ceramic engineering, a profession to which he would devote his professional career.
Then, as a lieutenant in the Air Force, he was unexpectedly afforded training as a communications and electronics officer which would stand him in good stead in the field of technical and electronic ceramics. He was instrumental in developing the first production of ceramic radomes for guided missiles, the first ceramic printed circuit substrate, the first ceramic personnel body armor, the first mass production of multichip hybrid substrates, the first digital electronic watch interconnects and the technology for the most advanced main frame computers of the 1980’s.
He gave back to his profession, volunteering in VITA to assist underdeveloped communities manufacture ceramic brick, tile, and pottery from local materials. He was made a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and served as a vice president of the Society starting in 1987. He was awarded the International Electronics Packaging Society Distinguished Achievement Award for technical and other significant contributions to the electronic packaging industry.
After cofounding a company in high-tech ceramics, later sold to Hewlett-Packard, he embarked on a consulting career which spanned twenty-six years and he assisted in the establishment of a dozen facilities utilizing cofired ceramic technology in the United States, Europe and Asia.
He is survived by his wife, Patricia (Patt) F Welterlen, three children, Paul Arthur Welterlen (wife Bobbee), Julia Lee Welterlen Fady (husband, Bruno), Dean Alan Welterlen (wife Jana) and six grandchildren, Christopher Fady, Alice Fady, Jonathan Fady, Nicholas Welterlen, and Sarah Welterlen. and Milena Werner He was proceeded in death by his eldest daughter, Celia Ann Welterlen-Fassbinder (husband Bill),
His remains will be cremated and scattered at sea near the La Jolla beach he loved to visit. A celebration of life was held in his honor on August 26 at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the San Diego Hospice at 4311 Third Ave. San Diego, CA 92103.