Donald L. Welling

Dec. 21, 2015

Donald L. Welling (BS CIV EGR ’49), Grand Haven, Mich., died Nov. 17 at his home. He was 92.

He born July 15, 1923, on the family farm in Coopersville to Jacob and Lyda (Vandervorm) Welling. He was the youngest of four children. His family moved to Grand Haven to become celery farmers when Don was three years old. He graduated from Grand Haven High School in 1941 and began working at the Grand Haven Brass Foundry for 32½ cents an hour.

When the foundry went on strike, his good friend, Corky Beukema, talked him into going to Michigan State College. Tuition at the time was $40 per term and room rent was $1 per week. Welling got a job working in the kitchen at the girls’ dormitory, where he worked for his meals.

In 1942, before completing his college degree, Welling joined the Army. He arrived in Casablanca, North Africa, on Thanksgiving Day 1943. After more than 300 days of combat with the famous 3rd Infantry Division, surviving six battles and a couple of invasions (including four months on the Anzio Beachhead and the invasion of Southern France), he ended up in Bertesgarden, Austria. Upon reflection of his time spent overseas, he often commented that “it didn’t hurt to be a little lucky.”

He returned to MSU and received his commission and graduated with honors, earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He was then called back to the Army for the Korean War, where he trained troops as a battery commander for field artillery for two years.

After the war, he worked as a civil engineer, building bridges for MDOT and L.W. Lamb Co.

Around this time, he married Ruth Appel, of Muskegon. Together, they had four children: Mike Welling, Sue (Dennis) Reenders, Nancy (Brian) Taylor and Ross (Annalisa Westfield) Welling; and two grandsons, Andrew and Matthew Reenders.

He started Midwest Concrete Pipe Co. After several company mergers, he retired in 1984 as vice president of Zurn Industries.

He served on the Board of Light & Power for 10 years. During this time, Grand Haven was building the new power plant. The colors of the new plant were green and white, same as MSU.

He was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Spring Lake and the Charles A. Conklin American Legion Post 28.

He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Marie Seacord; and brothers, John and Clarence Welling.

A celebration of his life was conducted on Nov. 21, including military honors. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Salvation Army or Harbor Humane Society. 

The family’s online guestbook is at