Boeing Vp Albertus Welliver Had An Instinct For Excellence

Whether making Boeing's 777 twin jet or carving a rocking pig for his grandchild, Albertus "Bert" Welliver applied common-sense mechanics and a vision of the best.

He also encouraged the best in others, from those he oversaw as Boeing senior vice president of research and engineering to his kids.

"He led by example," said Ed Stear, Boeing staff vice president for technology assessment. "He set a high standard, and you wanted to do well because of that.

"I thought he was a man of great intellect. But he had uncanny instincts technically. He didn't need to have a hell of a lot of information to sort out what was right."

Stear said Mr. Welliver, 60, who died Tuesday of cancer, would not pat you on the back. But he endeared himself to colleagues by telling stories, sometimes about funny things that happened with his dogs.

Boeing Chairman and CEO Frank Shrontz said, "His vision and leadership in promoting a close working relationship between engineering and manufacturing, together with pioneering many of the modern design tools, have been invaluable."

Mr. Welliver's son, Daniel Welliver of Seattle, said, "As a dad, he was real supportive. If I had an idea to do something, he'd say, `What're you waiting for? Get started.' He was not one to worry about what the problem was but would go out and solve it."

Born in Bloomsburg, Pa., Mr. Welliver graduated in 1956 from Penn State University, where he studied mechanical engineering. He joined Boeing in 1962 after working in research for Curtiss-Wright Corp.

At Boeing he was involved in the supersonic-transport program and supersonic tactical aircraft.

Famous in the industry for his leadership in developing aircraft-propulsion systems, advanced airplane design and manufacturing, Mr. Welliver listed the new 777 twin jet among his pet projects.

"It's as big an experiment as the original 747 because we're trying to redesign Boeing even as we design this airplane," Mr. Welliver once said.

Former Boeing Chairman and CEO T.A. Wilson called him "a scientist who also was a decision-maker and doer." He led Boeing efforts to encourage minorities to study math and science, including providing scholarships at African-American colleges.

Mr. Welliver had many hobbies from orchid growing and airplane building to cookingg and woodworking. A recent passion was fishing trips to Alaska.

Other survivors include his wife, Nancy King Welliver of Kent; sisters, Barbara Welliver of Phoenixville, Pa., and Virginia Miller of Pottstown, Pa.; daughters, Lee Ann Strueby of Tacoma, Sandy Koszarek of Seattle and Brenda Muth of Matawan, N.J.; and seven grandchildren.

Services were to be at 5 p.m. today at Grace Lutheran Church, 22975 24th Ave. S., Des Moines.

Remembrances may be sent to the American Cancer Society, 2120 First Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109.