Donald Louis Felley, 90, Rohm & Haas executive

Donald L. Felley
Donald L. Felley
Posted: December 07, 2011

Donald Louis Felley, 90, a research chemist who rose to become president and chief operating officer of the former Rohm & Haas Co. in Philadelphia, died of a stroke Sunday, Dec. 4, at his home in Rydal.

Mr. Felley spent his entire career, starting in 1949, with the chemical giant, which has headquarters on South Independence Mall West. The firm has since been acquired by the Dow Chemical Co.

In 1957, he and his family moved to Paris, where he spent eight years building and directing the company's operations in France and other western European nations.

He was recalled to Philadelphia in 1964 and became vice president for Rohm & Haas production in the United States. At various times, he headed its international operations and its North American division.

Mr. Felley became president and chief operating officer of Rohm & Haas in 1978, and he held both positions until his retirement in 1986.

"It was a very 'family' kind of company," said his wife, the former June Pack. "Before he retired, we took a last swing [abroad] to say goodbye to everybody."

In retirement, Mr. Felley was active in community affairs, serving as director of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and first chairman of the Greater Philadelphia First Corp. He was chairman of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and helped establish the Neighborhood Gardens Association, a Philadelphia land trust dedicated to securing community gardens.

"At one point, he helped with the new design for the Port of Philadelphia," his wife said. "He did a lot of things for these organizations. Anything they asked him to do, he did."

He also was director of the University of Illinois Foundation.

Born in Memphis, Mr. Felley grew up in the South. He graduated in 1937 from Jonesboro High School in Jonesboro, Ark., and earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Arkansas State University, formerly Arkansas State College, in 1941.

From 1942 to 1946, Mr. Felley served with the U.S. Army's 148th Field Artillery Battalion and saw action in New Guinea and the Philippines. He was discharged at the rank of captain.

He entered the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1946 and earned his doctorate in organic chemistry in 1949. While there, he met and married his wife.

Mr. Felley loved gardening and sports such as tennis, skiing, and fishing. He skied from his house near Elk Mountain until age 84, and lovingly tended the property's apple orchards. He also traveled widely.

Surviving, in addition to his wife of 62 years, are sons James, Doug, Richard, and David; a daughter, Mary; and nine grandchildren.

Memorial services will be later. Donations may be made to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 100 N. 20th St., 5th Floor, Philadelphia 19103.


Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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