George P. Kelley, who co-founded Langan Engineering & Environmental Services Inc. in 1970 and helped the Parsippany, NJ-based firm grow into a 1,000-employee giant, has died at 75.
Over 48 years with Langan, Kelley, P.E., F.ASCE, served as a managing principal and as chairman of the board from 2005 through 2015.
Kelley was known as talented and pragmatic, optimistic and curious, with an obstacle-defying “why not?” approach to life. “If you quit every time the wind goes the wrong way, you’ll never accomplish anything,” he said.
Born in Philadelphia, Kelley graduated from Duke University and served with the Navy Seabees as a construction engineer during the Vietnam War. After his discharge, he earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from Purdue in 1968.
Shortly thereafter, Kelley and three other engineers formed Langan Engineering. The firm took on projects with complex regulatory issues and challenging subsurface conditions across the New York metropolitan area, building a reputation it has maintained for technical excellence and client responsiveness.
Kelley’s skills were evident in two Connecticut environmental remediation projects in the 1990s. His efficient demolition in Waterbury of a 90-acre brass factory with more than 60 contaminated buildings saved the client $10 million. He coordinated geotechnical investigation and foundation recommendations to prepare for a new 1.2-million-square-foot Stamford campus for Swiss Bank.
He was highly regarded in New Jersey academic circles as an advocate for community welfare through development. He oversaw redevelopment of dozens of elementary and high schools across New Jersey, as well as at the collegiate level, including Rutgers University, NJIT, Stevens Institute of Technology, the College of New Jersey, and at Columbia University in New York. New Jersey’s governor appointed him to a brownfield redevelopment task force.
Kelley was a board member of the American Council of Engineering Companies and of the Independent College Fund of New Jersey. He also served on Montclair State University’s College of Science and Mathematics advisory board.
Last spring, Kelley took to the seas with a small crew on a 40-foot catamaran. Like all sailors, Kelley always had his eyes on the horizon.