Frank Wellons, engineering executive

Frank W. Wellons
Frank W. Wellons
Posted: March 27, 2013

Frank W. Wellons, 93, an engineering executive and former resident of the Philadelphia suburbs, died Friday, March 15, of pneumonia at Harborview Hospital in Seattle, Wash.

Mr. Wellons lived in Devon and West Chester for 72 years before moving to Seattle in January to be near his daughter, Amy.

He was recognized as an expert in roller bearings and was instrumental in developing a version of the buffering mechanisms that were used in aircraft turbine power plants.

He also helped develop international engineering standards for roller bearings, his family said.

Born in Wheeling, W. Va., Mr. Wellons graduated from Bellevue High School in Pittsburgh, where he grew up. He attended engineering school on a scholarship at Carnegie Mellon University and graduated in 1940 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.

He was excluded from military service because of high blood pressure, so in 1940, he went to work at SKF, a Swedish company with North American headquarters formerly in Philadelphia, but now in Lansdale.

Rising through the ranks, he became vice president of engineering in 1968. From 1970 to 1975, he was general manager of the Asheville division and was president of the Hornell division before assuming the presidency of the Philadelphia division in 1976.

Mr. Wellons retired from SKF in 1978 and worked as a consultant in the bearing industry.

He was chairman of the Roller Bearings Engineers Committee of the Bearing Manufacturer Association and was a delegate to its 1967 meeting in Budapest. He also was chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics Subcommittee on Lubrication and Wear, and a member of the NASA Research Advisory Committee on Materials.

In retirement, he helped start the ROMEO men's breakfast club. The acronym stands for Retired Old Men Eating Out. The group meets weekly at various diners on the Main Line.

Known for his quick wit, Mr. Wellons stayed mentally sharp into his 90s. He finished crossword puzzles daily, read military history, and stayed active with his 1936 Pi Kappa Alpha pledge class for more than 60 years.

He married the former Audrey Donington in 1952. The two enjoyed traveling. After she died in 2006, he often took train trips between Philadelphia and Seattle.

Surviving in addition to his daughter are grandsons Elliot and Daniel Copenhaver.

Services were pending.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 215-854-2611 or

comments powered by Disqus