In Memory of George P. Kelley
It is with deep sadness that we share the news that our dear friend and colleague, George P. Kelley, one of the founding members of LANGAN, has died. During his 48 years with the company George served as a Managing Principal and also was the Chairman of our Board from 2005 THROUGH 2015. He was a pragmatic and extremely talented engineer, a mentor to many, and a friend to us all. his reservoir of energy inspired those who were fortunate to have known him.
Last spring, while most people his age were slowing down, George Kelley took to the seas with a small crew on a 40’ catamaran for some Caribbean island hopping before trekking north across the Atlantic from Antigua to Annapolis. George, like all sailors, always had his eyes on the same thing … the horizon. It was there that he no doubt gained his boundless optimism, his youthful curiosity, his remarkable energy, and his obstacle-defying “why not?” philosophy of life.
Although George passed away last week, all who knew him within and beyond Langan, will journey forward in part because of him. It’s what he would have wanted. Indeed, we will never forget him, his accomplishments, and his story.
George Paul Kelley was born in Philadelphia in 1943. After graduating from Duke University with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering in 1965, George served as a young construction engineer with the Navy Seabees from 1965 to 1967 during the Vietnam War. After being discharged from the Navy, he earned a Master’s Degree, also in civil engineering, from Purdue University in 1968.
Shortly thereafter in 1970, George and two other engineers – George Derrick and Dennis Leary – joined Bernie Langan to start a new firm called Langan Engineering. From its very beginning in a small space in Clifton, New Jersey, the firm took on projects with complex regulatory issues and challenging subsurface conditions, quickly building its reputation for “technical excellence, practical experience, and client responsiveness,” words that remain cornerstones at Langan.
From day one George could be found on the so-called frontline, sleeves rolled up, working solutions that made sense to all involved. Nowhere were his unique skills better at play than leading teams on complicated redevelopment programs, such as two Connecticut projects in the 1990s: the Former Scovill Brass Center in Waterbury, and Swiss Bank’s Stamford Campus. The former involved the environmental remediation and demolition of a 90-acre site with over 60 contaminated buildings. George led value engineering on the remediation process, which allowed the client to achieve a savings of $10 million. On the latter, George managed all site remediation and demolition of 20 buildings, and coordinated the geotechnical investigation and foundation recommendations in downtown Stamford in preparation for Swiss Bank’s proposed 1.2-million-square-foot campus.
George’s hand touched many of the region’s urban areas – Camden, Paterson, Newark, Elizabeth, New Brunswick, Hoboken, and Trenton, as well as many projects in New York’s five boroughs and downtown White Plains. In almost all of these cities, George literally affected the future by leading the redevelopment of dozens of elementary and high schools. His touch extended to the collegiate level where he led projects at Rutgers, NJIT, Stevens Institute of Technology, The College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, Kean University, Seton Hall University, Stockton College, William Paterson University, CUNY and Columbia University. George became well-known at the NJEDA and the NJSCC as an advocate for community welfare through development.
Not surprisingly, George served as a valued mentor to many, many Langan employees. His wisdom, knowledge, and guidance were appreciated by all. George’s dedication to the firm and his passion for the industry continue to motivate everyone at Langan. He was passionate about the ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards competition. Each year he made certain that Langan submitted projects, and many of those submissions went on to win at both state and national levels. His commitment to Langan employees is underscored annually with the “George P. Kelley Empowerment Award,” which is given to an employee who demonstrates leadership results through empowerment.
In addition to serving on the Advisory Board for the College of Science and Mathematics at Montclair State University, he served on the Board of Directors for the American Council of Engineering Companies as well as for the Independent College Fund of New Jersey. He was also appointed by the Governor to be a member of the Brownfield Redevelopment Task Force, which is a group of professionals charged with assisting in the redevelopment of contaminated industrial sites throughout the state of New Jersey.
George Kelley is survived by his wife Barbara, his three children, and four grandchildren.