Albert Earlbeck

[ Age 87 ] Nationally known authority on welding owned a related business and taught others the trade.

October 20, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN REPORTER

Albert Collison Earlbeck, a nationally known welding expert and founder of Earlbeck Gases and Technologies Inc., died from complications of an infection Monday at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 87 and lived in Timonium.

Mr. Earlbeck, the son of a clothing cutter, was born and raised at his family's South Fleet Street home. He was a 1936 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, where he played varsity tennis and was vice president of the National Honor Society.

While a student at Poly, Mr. Earlbeck learned welding at T. A. Canty Inc. and continued working there while attending the Johns Hopkins University.

"With the coming of the war, he was asked to teach welding at Maryland Drydock and Shipbuilding Co. and Bethlehem Steel where they were building Liberty ships," said his son, James M. Earlbeck, of Monkton, president of Earlbeck Gases and Technologies Inc.

In 1948, Mr. Earlbeck and a partner purchased T.A. Canty Inc. and renamed the business Earlbeck & Landrum Welding Supplies. He also established a second division of the company, BEL Welding Supplies, in Hyattsville.

After buying out his partner, Mr. Earlbeck established Earlbeck Gases and Technologies Inc. in Rosedale. The company sells welding equipment, machinery and industrial gases, and workers here conduct welding classes and seminars.

His son said that the firm, in 1971, was one of the first to set up, staff and operate a technical facility in the St. John's Welding School at the House of Correction in Jessup.

"The whole concept was that inmates would be taught a craft and could make a living. And in those days, Baltimore shipyards were desperate for welders," his son said.

Mr. Earlbeck, who became a published authority in the welding field, had been chairman of the Maryland Section of the American Welding Society and vice president of the National Welding Supply Association.

He traveled to Europe, Asia and Russia to study welding methods and wrote widely of his experiences in trade magazines. In 1969, he earned his Maryland professional license in welding and metallurgy.

"He was a passionate teacher of welding and taught classes at Anne Arundel Community College, Baltimore City Community College and had a mobile training facility that he could take, for instance, to the Virginia Department of Transportation," his son said.

"Al wrote the specs and developed a lot of the processes required to weld dissimilar metals and they're still in use today. He is a nationally acknowledged authority in the field," said Joseph A. Kelly, president and owner Kelco Corp., an East Baltimore metal fabrication company. "He was a very personable man and always very helpful to customers. He'd come to your shop, set up a process and show you how to do it."

Warren Pardo, owner of J.C. Pardo & Sons Inc., a Middle River manufacturer of stainless steel industrial steam kettles, said Mr. Earlbeck was always helpful.

"I've been in this business a long time and whenever I had a problem, I'd ask Al for a solution," Mr. Pardo said. "He always gave the right advice and was one of the few people in the business who actually understood what he sold. It just wasn't about making a sale."

Mr. Earlbeck retired in 1977.

He was a world traveler, enjoyed playing tennis, and was a power boating enthusiast.

There are no services. A visitation for Mr. Earlbeck will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

Also surviving are his wife of 66 years, the former Melva M. Thomas; another son, Thomas A. Earlbeck of Parkton; a daughter, Trudy Hammett of Phoenix, Baltimore County; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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