Daniel M. Tellep, Engineer Who Steered Lockheed’s Development, Dies at 89

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Daniel M. Tellep, Engineer Who Steered Lockheed’s Growth, Dies at 89

Daniel M. Tellep, an aerospace engineer who initiated a merger between Lockheed and Martin Marietta to become the world's largest military entrepreneur and then became its first general manager, died on November 26th at his home in Saratoga, California. He was 89 years old.

His death was confirmed by his daughter, Susan Tellep.

Mr. Tellep was at the helm of Lockheed when the Cold War ended. Calabasas-based Lockheed has struggled with easing global tensions and examining potential decreased demand, as has Martin Marietta, who was led by Norman R. Augustine at the time. The merger in 1995 created a giant in the defense industry. In 2019, Lockheed Martin had net sales of $ 59.8 billion.

"The 'Fusion of Equals'" he orchestrated between Lockheed and Martin "resulted in innovations and skills that continue to protect our nation, our allies and our highest ideals," said Marillyn Hewson, chairman of Lockheed Martin, in a statement after Mr. Tellep's death.

As a managing director at Lockheed and then Lockheed Martin, Mr. Tellep was responsible for the development of military communications satellites, photographic communications satellites, the Hubble space telescope, and more.

As an engineer at Lockheed, he pioneered space and rocket technology systems. He was the lead scientist on the country's first re-entry flight experiments, which were conducted to determine how best to get a nuclear missile through the atmosphere into space and then back into the atmosphere without being destroyed. He also worked on ballistic missile systems fired from submarines and on the manufacture of thermal tiles to protect space shuttles.

"He basically had a lot of knowledge about how to prevent things from burning," said his long-time colleague David Klinger in a telephone interview. “He was very good at both math and practicality at actually making things work. And he was so good that the company blamed him for more and more people. "

Daniel Tellep was born on November 20, 1931 in Forest City, Pennsylvania, about 25 miles northeast of Scranton to John and Mary Tellep. His father worked as a coal processor and then as a carpenter. His mother, who immigrated from Eastern Europe as a child, worked for a thread company. The family later moved to San Diego, where his father worked as a machinist and where Daniel grew up.

Daniel was obsessed with escape from a young age when he began to develop a lifelong passion for model airplanes. In a memoir he wrote for his family, he recalled building his first:

“No doubt the finished model was rough, but there it was three-dimensional and recognizable as one of the most popular aircraft of the era. I could hold it on my arm and move it like it was in flight. I remember looking at it for hours. "

He studied mechanical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, graduated summa cum laude in 1954 and earned a master's degree in 1955. That year he moved to Lockheed. He was the main scientist of the X-17, one of the earliest research rockets.

Mr. Tellep's work in re-entry technology and thermodynamics earned him the Lawrence B. Sperry Award from the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics at age 32. He was later elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Mr. Tellep rose to the ranks of Lockheed in 1984 and was named President in 1989 and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 1989. The company struggled and helped turn it around. He was in charge when he received a major contract to build the F-22, the Air Force's newest generation of combat aircraft at the time. The deal resulted in $ 70 billion in sales for the company and its partners and cemented Lockheed's corporate recovery.

His leadership was noticed.

"During Lockheed's troubles of recent years, Mr. Tellep has retained his characteristic outward calm and kindness," wrote the New York Times in 1991 of him, "although he proved as tough as the most ruthless corporate robbery."

Mr. Tellep became the first chairman and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin in 1995 and served as the C.E.O. for nine months and remains chairman until 1998.

He met Margaret Lewis in college and married her in 1954. The couple had four girls and were later divorced. He met and married the psychotherapist Patricia Baumgartner in 1970. They stayed together until their death in 2005.

In addition to his daughter Susan, his three other daughters Teresa and Mary Tellep and Patricia Axelrod survive him. his first wife with whom he stayed close; two stepdaughters from his second marriage, Chris Chatwell and Anne Bossange; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Mr. Tellep's passion for flying extended into his adult years when he took to the skies in non-motorized gliders, which required a deep knowledge of wind and thermodynamics. He flew remote-controlled airplanes until his early 1980s. And the model airplanes he built as a boy, including a cherished airplane he lost, stuck in his memory.

“I took off the glider on a hot summer's day,” he wrote in his family memory, “and it seemed to be circling forever and hardly descending. This was when I learned about “thermals”. This rising column of air carries all light with it – and that included my glider. Since I did not write my name on it, there was no way it could be returned. Now, so many years later, it's different for me. "