Welanetz, former director of physical plant, passes away at 84

Peter Paul Welanetz, former director of physical plant at Williams College, died last Wednesday of heart failure and complications. He was 84.

Welanetz was a native of Bayonne, N.J., and former Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, serving in Europe during WWII.  He earned a Civil Engineering degree from Lehigh University in 1949, and played high school, prep school and semi-pro football.Â

He moved to Williamstown, Mass. in 1951, where he raised his family, enjoyed a long and distinguished career at the College, and served in numerous civic and community leadership roles.

In 1999 he relocated with his wife Janet to the Carolina Meadows retirement community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Mr. Welanetz oversaw a major period of campus growth at the College, from 1951 until his retirement in 1982. During his years there, he oversaw the construction or renovation of 75 percent of the college campus, and was dedicated to retaining the historic character of the campus as well as a strong relationship with downtown Williamstown.

He was a leader in developing a program for Dutch Elm disease research and replacement of college and town elm trees, a symbol of the “Village Beautiful.” Recognizing his devotion to the town and college campus, a memorial tree donated by his family was planted this fall on the college Taconic Golf Club course.

He was a leader in the National Association of Physical Plant Administrators, serving as president in the 1970s, contributing to professional publications and advising many college peers.

Named Williamstown Man of the Year in 1969 by the Williamstown News, Mr. Welanetz held just about every civic and community leadership position in the town at one time or another, including town Selectman and Chairman of its Board; member of the Zoning and Planning Boards and School Committee; president of the Williamstown Little League and Rotary Club, Williams Faculty Club, and Taconic Golf Club. He served on the boards of the Williamstown Savings Bank and North Adams Hospital for many years.

Welanetz leaves his wife, Janet, sister Ysabel, brother Ludolf, sons Peter, of Brookline, Mass. and Robert of Atlanta, Ga. and three grandsons.

A reception honoring Welanetz will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Williams College Faculty House and Alumni Center, 968 Main Street, Williamstown, Mass. 01267, following a private service.

Courtesy of OPA