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Obituary: Conrad Welling, naval aviator

He formed a company to investigate the potential of marine minerals

Conrad G. Welling, a resident of Atherton for 51 years, died Aug. 20 after a short illness. He was 91.

Mr. Welling was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but spent his youth in Houston, Texas.

At age 17 he joined the military and earned his wings as a naval aviator. During his 20-year career with the military, he flew a wide range of aircraft, including carrier landings with the S2-F. He also served at the Pentagon, where he contributed to the development of the Polaris missile program.

After retiring from the U.S. Navy, he worked for Lockheed Missiles and Space. He formed an industrial partnership, International Mineral Company, to investigate the potential of marine minerals.

According to the family's statement: "Through Mr. Welling's leadership, Lockheed Ocean Minerals Company, an international consortium, became the first U.S. licensee under the Deep Seabed Hard Minerals Resources Act and, in 1978, successfully tested a remotely operated ocean mining vehicle, for which the technology has yet to be matched."

The mining systems influenced the design of mining systems and added credibility to a venture regarded by many at the time as too futuristic, say family members.

Mr. Welling is survived by his children, Conrad G. Welling, Bonnie Welling, and Patricia Leugers; and two grandchildren. His wife of 62 years, Bunny Welling, died in October 2006.

Services have been held.

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