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