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JOSEPH P. WADLECK DIES AT 100; PIONEERING RESEARCH ENGINEER

Joseph P. Wadleck, 100, a research and development engineer whose designs and inventions helped pave the way for modern industry, died Monday (Sept. 27, 1998) in his Williamsville home after an illness of five years.

Wadleck was chief of research and development at Blaw Knox Co., an international industrial conglomerate from which he retired at the age of 68.

His early career included a design for the Westinghouse Corp. that was the early high-voltage transformer of today.

Wadleck participated in a group of engineers that developed the all-terrain jeep vehicle before the outbreak of World War II and the light metal alloys that were used to great advantage in the fuselage of American aircraft.

The economical production of small diameter copper and brass tubing was made possible by one of his patents, which subsequently was patented in major industrialized countries. He designed the rotary mechanism for the first U.S. satellite tracking mechanism for Goldstone Laboratories in California, then found he had to design the mill to produce it.

During the 1950s and '60s, he designed seamless tubing mills in France, Germany, England, Scotland and Japan.

During his career, he created technology for many internationally successful steel companies. He designed the Indiana Harbor steel plant, described as the prototype of modern steel plants.

After his retirement from Blaw-Knox, he worked as an international consultant until he was 75, when he began pursuing his hobbies and interests in philosophy, psychology and music.

Born in Hungry, Wadleck, whose father was an oenologist, grew up on land that was a vineyard estate for the Catholic Church. His godfather was a bishop, who introduced him to the world of science through German periodicals in the bishop's library.

Wadleck attended the Polytechnic Institute at the University of Budapest and graduated in 1919 with honors and a degree in engineering.

He had served as a lieutenant during World War I and been wounded in a battle on the Russian border, then returned to Budapest to continue his studies.

His family said he recalled one night after the invasion of Hungary by Communist forces led by Bela Kun when he and his roommate heard a knock at their door late at night.

Soldiers entered, and Wadleck related later that he had quickly claimed to be involved in a project for the government. The other student was not so quick to respond, and Wadleck said he later learned the young man had been forced inside a barrel and thrown in a nearby river.

The incident convinced Wadleck that his country was not safe. And in 1921, he took his young wife, the former Maria Martonossy, and fled to the United States. He almost immediately began his career as a leading researcher and development engineer.

Survivors include two daughters, Clara Phillies of Williamsville and Hedy Lonero of Tryon, N.C.; two grandsons; and a great-grandchild.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Friday in SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, 5480 Main St., Williamsville. Burial will be in Williamsville Cemetery.[crlln]

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