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John M. Kellerhouse, senior engineer for GM March 17, 1917 -- Dec. 21, 2005

John M. Kellerhouse of Saratoga Springs, a retired senior project engineer for General Motors who helped design the first front-end air-conditioning units for cars, died Wednesday in Wesley Nursing Home, Saratoga Springs, after a brief illness. He was 88.

The native of Arlington, Dutchess County, he was an Army veteran of World War II, having served with the 349th Harbor Craft Company delivering supplies in the South Pacific.

He had a certification diploma from the Industrial Arts Institute of Chicago, specializing in air conditioning, heating and ventilation. He also took courses at York (Pa.) Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Erie Technical Technical Institute and the University at Buffalo School of Applied Arts and Science.

Mr. Kellerhouse, a former Buffalo resident, worked for the Harrison Radiator Division of General Motors, where he was considered an expert on automotive air-conditioning compressors. He was instrumental in pioneering the design, engineering, testing and release of GM's first compact air-conditioning system in 1954. Under that system -- placed at first in just 1,200 Pontiacs -- air conditioning was relocated to the engine compartment from the trunk.

The Niagara County Historical Society in Lockport has one of the original compact front-end air-conditioned Pontiacs in its collection.

When he retired from GM in the early 1980s, after 28 years of service, Mr. Kellerhouse was a senior project engineer.

After retiring, he moved to Sun City West, Ariz. He was a member of the GM Retirees Club of Arizona and was a major contributor to the Sun Health Foundation, the Del E. Webb Memorial Hospital, Sun City West Foundation and the West Valley Art Museum, all in Arizona.

When his wife, Loretta Spatz Kellerhouse, died in 1997, he returned to New York State to be closer to friends and family.

Surviving is a brother, Robert E. of Croton.


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