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1926 Edward 2022

Edward Wellejus

January 3, 1926 — September 6, 2022

Whether it was chance or fate, Erie journalist Edward Troy Wellejus stumbled into the exciting work he would stay with for fifty years and which he quickly learned to love.

Wellejus, of South Shore Drive, Erie, died on September 6, 2022.

A senior at Academy High School during World War II, when workers were in short supply, and as editor of the school paper, Wellejus was recruited by Erie Daily Times Sports editor Howard (Peg) Parsons to work nights in the Times Sports Department.

This double duty, student and sports writer, gave him some recognition, but it also had its costs. Wellejus was once denounced at an Academy football rally as “the traitor in our midst”, for writing a story about three Academy players who were injured and couldn’t play in the upcoming game between Academy and East High.

Born in Northumberland, PA on January 3, 1926, Wellejus was the son of the late Hans and Beatrice Lauer Wellejus Winn (late in life after the death of her husband, Mrs. Wellejus married William Winn, a longtime GE employee and the first Vice-President of GE Local 506).

Wellejus was a graduate of Academy in January of 1944. He received his army draft notice within weeks and by March was doing basic training at Fort McClelland, AL.

In August, he was in England awaiting the move to France. In December, at the Battle of the Bulge, much of the 87th Infantry regiment that he was in, was overwhelmed by the Germans in the last significant offensive of the war. For nearly two weeks, he and other prisoners were marched back into Germany. On his nineteenth birthday, on January 3, 1945, he was in an air raid shelter underneath Manheim, Germany, while allied bombers attacked the city. Wellejus was a prisoner until late April, when he was freed by the victorious allies.

After the war, he returned to the Times as a reporter. When he was admitted to Allegheny College, the Times gave him a job as their Meadville correspondent.

While at Allegheny, and after numerous trips back to Erie to see her, he married the former Alice White, also a graduate of Academy High School. Alice, who worked in Meadville to support her student husband, died on May 28, 2016. They had sixty eight years of a happy marriage.

The union produced three children, Michael Wellejus, a retired Erie School District music teacher; Rebecca (Becky) Wellejus, a retired Speech Language Pathologist; and Dr. Matthew Wellejus, (married to the former Aimee Beer), a Periodontist, Chief of the Dental facility at the Columbus, OH Veterans Administration Hospital.

Also surviving are four grandchildren, Troy Wellejus (Lynne) of Erie; Dr. Kevin Wellejus (Jill Hirst), a Veterinarian in Chilton, WI; Marshall Troy Wellejus  and Emerson Rose Wellejus of Columbus, OH and two great-grandchildren, Claire Wellejus and Casey Alice Wellejus of Wisconsin.

Wellejus took pre-law at Allegheny and was admitted to Dickinson Law School, but the pull of newspaper work was too strong. Newspapering was then a very exciting profession. There was no competition from today’s rivals, television and the internet. Further, there was very keen competition between the then two Erie newspapers, the Times and Erie Dispatch Herald.

For nearly two decades, Wellejus served as City Hall reporter, visiting City Hall every work day. He later became Editorial Writer and Editorial Page Editor for the Times, retiring in 1993 when he was 67.

In his work as a journalist, Wellejus had a breakfast meeting with Eleanor Roosevelt; interviewed General George C. Marshall; attended a White House luncheon hosted by President Ronald Reagan; rode with President Jimmy Carter from the GE Plant to WICU; sat beside then Senator John F. Kennedy when he gave his famous address on 10th street outside the then Lawrence Hotel; and twice rode in the state plane with Governor Raymond P. Shafer – once to Atlantic City and once to Pittsburgh. Gov. Shafer, who had become a personal friend from Allegheny College days, came to Erie to be the speaker at a retirement dinner the Chamber of Commerce had for Wellejus.

For 25 years, Wellejus had a daily newscast on WJET radio, broadcasting from the editorial rooms of the Times. He was a regular on a weekly WSEE-TV show which featured local newsmakers. For two years, he hosted an interview show on WQLN-TV with state legislators. He also once discussed regional politics on national public TV when Jim Lehrer was in the area during a presidential campaign year.

He also did public relations work at Penn State Behrend for seven years, this before the college had a formal public relations department. He did graduate work at Gannon University, and he completed a journalism course at Columbia University in New York City.

Wellejus once made a motor trip around the entire rim of Lake Erie, writing stories at every stop. He rode a jeep through the entire length of the Millcreek tube, seeking weak points.

Wellejus was on friendly terms with nine of the ten Erie Mayors he dealt with, beginning with Charles R. Barber. He spent several days in New Haven, CT, studying the redevelopment of Mayor Richard C. Lee. This was preparatory to Erie’s decision to hire the famous planner, Maurice Rotival, to develop an Erie renewal effort.

Wellejus served as Secretary of the Erie Bicentennial Commission in 1995, which left its legacy of the Bicentennial Tower at the foot of State Street. He served on the boards of the Erie County Historical Society and Museums, Erie Humane Society, the Perry Memorial House Commission and WPSE – The Penn State Behrend radio station. He served as a panel member for ten years in determining the winner of the Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts scholarship – an Erie County Bar Association effort.

Always interested in Erie history, Wellejus was the author of “Erie: Chronical of a Great Lake City”, published in 1980; “The Community, The Times and the Anniversary of the Times Publishing Company”, published in 1988 on the occasion of the paper’s 100th anniversary; “Historic Erie County”, published by the Erie County Historical Society in 2005; and was the principal writer of “Erie: Two Hundred Years As A Community.”

Wellejus was an honorary member of both the Erie Rotary Club and the Erie Kiwanis Club, the only Erie resident to serve at the same time as a member of both clubs. He was also a longtime member of the Y-Men’s Club, the Friday Noon discussion group and the Erie Maennerchor Club.

In 1981 after his first history book was published, Wellejus was named a Distinguished Pennsylvanian by the William Penn Committee in Philadelphia. In 1984 the Erie County Historical Society gave him an award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Local History, In 1986 Wellejus was given the Dr. Gertrude A. Barber Distinguished Service award. In 1993, after his retirement, the Erie Area Chamber of Commerce gave him the Louis J. Tullio Community Service Award.

The family would like to give a special thanks to the UPMC Hospice team members for their wonderful care and compassion.

There will be no visitation. Private services were held and burial was in Erie Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the ANNA Shelter, 1555 E. 10th St., Erie, PA 16511.

Arrangements by the Quinn Funeral Home,, West 9th & Liberty St.

Condolences can be sent to www.BurtonQuinnScott.com

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Edward Wellejus, please visit our flower store.

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