Lawrence S. Ulrey

February 14, 1924 ‒ April 04, 2017

Mount Vernon, Ohio

Lawrence S. Ulrey passed away April 4, 2017 in Mt Vernon, OH at the age of 93. Dad was a husband, parent, mentor, teacher, support system, humorist, short-story writer, pilot, mechanic, a heck of an engineer, and an all-around character. Born near Westerville, Ohio (Valentine’s Day 1924) to Asa and Carrie Ulrey, Dad grew up on the family farm, graduated from Westerville High School in 1942 (band, orchestra, football, Hi-Y, stage hand, stage manager, class plays, dramatics; Ambition: To be the second Barney Oldfield; 1952 prediction: To Mars and back in 10 seconds; Known by: Having an interest in aviation), saw action with the US Navy in the South Pacific theater during WWII aboard the USS Mobjack as a radar operator (1942-1945), graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from Ohio State University (1948), worked at the OSU antenna lab for a short time, moved his family to Mt Vernon OH to work as an engineer at the Cooper-Bessemer Corporation from 1952-1978, and switched over to the startup Ariel Corporation (also in Mt Vernon) from 1978-1995. After a stint as a contractor at Rolls-Royce, Dad settled into a quieter phase devoted to family, including home-schooling grandkids and making sure all of the family’s lawns were well-kept.

Dad married the love of his life, Bonnie (Bolander) Ulrey in 1944. Bonnie was a cheerleader at nearby Worthington High School, but their attraction was apparently enough to overcome any high school rivalry. Dad and Mom began a family in 1945 and in orderly 2-year increments had four children: Mike, Lee, Mark, and Linda (Barlow). Both Dad and Mom had an interest in helping the less fortunate, so after their biological children were out on their own, they began taking in foster kids. The ones who were able to stay the longest and be most influenced by our parent’s guidance were Paula (Kyle) Stephens, Sharon (Kyle) Brown, Theresa Dilger, and Vicki Wagner.

Dad will always be remembered for the “kitchen table” homework sessions. He and Mom insisted on everyone getting a good education, and Dad spent many hours helping all his “students” with various subjects, but especially math and science and how to be a good writer, meaning clear and concise, and no fancy words when a simple word will do. But Dad and Mom did not try to force all their children or their descendants into the same mold. They encouraged and supported the dreams and ambitions of all of them, whether it was to start a business, farm, join the military, take an immediate job, or go on to college.
As an engineer, Dad was instrumental in the development of electronic control systems that modernized Cooper-Bessemer engines. He traveled the world, helping to start up or troubleshoot installations for both private and government customers in Canada, Venezuela, Kuwait, Germany, Australia, the Philippines, and throughout the United States. He was instrumental in the engine upgrades to the locomotives of the Philippines National Railway System, and also in the installation of engines at the US Air Force missile silo base at Minot, ND, whose purpose was to bring power quickly online for missile operations. One of his children was privileged to spend some time with him on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, whose power (in the 60’s) was provided by Cooper-Bessemer engines.

While Dad was Ariel engine project manager, he was instrumental in the development of the JGS integral engine-compressor product line. He wrote an article extolling the virtues of the design and resulting durability of the unit in the May 1983 issue of Diesel Progress (North American). Many of these units are still operational!

Dad loved anything mechanical, but especially reciprocating engines (really BIG ones were his favorites), turbines, steam tractors, and general aviation and experimental aircraft. He always wanted to be a combat/test pilot, but unfortunately his vision excluded him from this branch of military service. One of his favorite pastimes was flying his Cessna 172 from Knox County “International” (as he called it) to some other similar small airport just to get lunch and fly back, preferably with enjoyable company, such as Bonnie or one of his children or grandchildren. Later, he co-owned at various times a Piper Apache and a Seneca, which are twin-engine aircraft with much greater speed and range than the Cessna. He and Mom would travel to various spots in the US to visit errant children who had strayed away from Ohio.

One of the things we will all miss is his sense of humor. Both verbally and in writing, he had an offbeat, piquant sense of humor – memorable sayings seemed to pop out of him from some cosmic comedy source that few people were privy to. We all regret not recording every conversation. Even at the end, and in somewhat darker moments, he could still provoke uncontrollable laughter with a wry observation about life and death.

There will be an informal “celebration of life” gathering for family and friends on Saturday April 29, 2017, 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM (come when you feel like it), at the residence of
Rich and Paula Stephens
9580 Westenbarger Rd
Mt Vernon, Ohio 43050

In lieu of gifts or flowers, if you feel like making a contribution, please send a gift to (check payable to Paradise in the Sky)
Paradise in the Sky, Youth Motivational Services, Inc
9580 Westenbarger Rd
Mt Vernon, Ohio, 43050


To send the family a condolence online visit:

The Dowds-Snyder Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Lawrence S. Ulrey.

  • Mike, Lee, Mark and Linda–so sorry to hear of your dad’s passing. I never knew him well, but appreciated his dry wit. You were blessed to have such wonderful parents. Take Care. Diana Cochran Blake

  • I am very sorry to hear of your father’s passing. He was quite a remarkable man, as I read in his obituary and it seems he lived a complete and fulfilling life.

  • Mike, I wish I’d known him. Reading about him, I can see what a fine father he was.
    Leslie (Bartels) Noxon

  • Mike, I’m so sorry to learn of the loss of your father. I’m sorry I didn’t know him. What a remarkable man and an incredible life! My deepest condolences to you and your family.

    • Mike I new your dad when in school but never spent time at your home even when we lived so close. I new him from my 46 years with Cooper and my 6 years with ACI Services. I asked him question about the JGS engine that he work on developing at ARIEL.
      I even sold parts to your brother Lee for the units as a distributor for ARIEL parts.
      Pass on my Condolences to the family.

  • Mike, so sorry to learn of your fathers passing. I know it is so hard to lose a parent. Your Father sounds as if was a very involved parent. God bless you and your family during this difficult time.

  • Mike,
    Sorry to hear of the loss of your father. What a beautiful description of his life. (The good writing lesson must have worked.) You were fortunate to have such a parent.
    John ’63

  • To the Family of Lawrence Ulrey. Was Reading the Columbus Dispatch when I Came across your Father. What a Incredible Life he Had. I noticed he served on the USSMobjack (, 42-45 ). My Father Bill McGovern Served on the Mobjack the Same Years as a Electrician”s Mate. So Iam sure they were Ship mates. We are So Fortunate to have had such Great Parents. GOD BLESS YOUR FAMILY.

  • To the family of Lawrence S. Ulrey. My family sends their deepest sympathy to you. Our thoughts and prayers goes out to you. John 5:29.

  • Greetings and heartfelt sympathy to the fine family of Larry and Bonnie. Larry was my favorite 2nd cousin. It is sad that we have lost ouch the last few years. We need more fine families in this country. Best wishes to all.