1899 - 1968
||26 Aug 1899
||Superior, Douglas, Wisconsin [1, 2, 3]
||26 Mar 1968
||Boca Raton, Palm Beach, Florida [4, 5]
|Cause: Asphyxia from drowning |
||Mount Hope Cemetery, Chicago, Cook, Illinois
||Brainard (Brainerd) / Foster / Fish
||01 May 2005 00:00:00 |
||James Van-Renselaer LECLAIR, b. 13 Feb 1862, Colden, Erie, New York |
||Jessie Ethel FISH, b. 3 Oct 1872, Racine, Racine, Wisconsin |
||Alice Williams BESSEE, b. 26 May 1899, Fort Dodge, Webster, Iowa |
||26 May 1922
||Schenectady, Schenectady, New York 
||Amelie MCGUIRE, b. 31 Jul 1898, Vevay, Switzerland, Indiana |
||15 Mar 1930
||Chicago, Cook, Illinois 
- Titus George LeClair was born 26 August 1899 in Superior, Wisconsin,the second of four boys. His father, James Van Renselaer LeClair was bornin the town of Colden New York. His mother, Jessie Ethel Fish, was bornin Racine Wisconsin, and her ancestry included three lines going back tothe Mayflower group of 1620 (John Alden, Priscilla Mullins, and PeterBrown.
When Titus was five years old, the family moved to Lewiston, Idaho,where his father bought a large stand of timber and began loggingoperations. The business thrived, continuing until well into the 1920's.The family was not wealthy, but it was reasonable well off; they lived ina large two-story house at 701 6th Avenue in Lewiston where the four sonsattended local elementary and high schools. In 1917, after he graduatedfrom Lewiston High School, Titus entered the University of Idaho inMoscow, Idaho. The United States had entered World War I that previousApril. With many of his classmates, Titus entered the Student OfficersTraining Corps while continuing as a full-time student. He was releasedfrom the Training Corps on September 26, 1919, after the November 1918Armistice. He continued at U. of Idaho, graduating in 1921 as a member ofthe first graduating class of the Electrical Engineering Department. Thenation at that time was in an economic slump as a result of the post-wardownturn, so according to an account written by Ti, he "worked at oddjobs for a few months". However, according to an old newspaper article heattended Union College in Schenectady, New York, in 1921-2. In any event,he began work as a Test Engineer with General Electric in Schenectady,New York in February 1922.
Tutus became engaged to Alice Bessie of Moscow, Idaho, but did notgraduate. Again the records contain a discrepancy, since somehow sheworked as a librarian at U. of Idaho, while others indicate she wasAssistant Registrar there. As a coincidence on the number 26, Alice wasborn on May 26, 1899 and on May 26, 1922 she and Titus were married inSchenectady, New York. During his time with GE, Titus came to know GeorgeSteinmetz, the electrical genius who was responsible for many of thetechnical developments which led to GE's rise to eminence in the Americanelectrical equipment industry. In 1923, Titus and Alice moved to Chicago,Illinois, where he began work as a cable engineer with CommonwealthEdison Co., the public utility serving the Chicago area with electricpower.
Their first son, Richard, was born August 15, 1923, followed by Hughon November 30, 1925, and David on October 9, 1927. Alice died suddenlyon September 7, 1928, leaving Titus with three preschool sons. On March15, 1930 Titus remarried. His new bride was Amelie McGuire, and native ofVevay, Indiana, a small town on the banks of the Ohio River. She was agraduate in English from the University of Indiana. While hook on thetask of raising three sons and managing the household, Titus continuedhis career with Commonwealth Edison. On July 13, 1938 Amelie officiallyadopted Richard, Hugh, and David as her sons.
In addition the his regular engineering work, Titus began work onwhat were to be several inventions widely used in the electric powerindustry, thus emulating Thomas A. Edison, the father of the electricpower industry. Titus had met Edison in earlier years. In 1933 Titus soldhis patent for bus bars to American Brass, a subsidiary of AnacondaCopper. Bus bars a special conductors for carrying extremely largecurrents, and Ti's invention reduced the amount of copper required inthese devices. The sale of this patent was enough to build a large,two-story brick house (also with full basement and third floor dormitoryspace) at 1924 West 102nd Street, in the Beverly Hills section ofChicago. On April 24, 1934, Diane was born to Amelie and Titus, and theyall moved into the new house just six days before Christmas in 1934.
In addition to advancing his career at Commonwealth Edison, Titusplayed an active role in professional membership in the Chicago Sectionof the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, or AIEE. This societylater was expanded and renamed the Institute of Electrical and ElectronicEngineers, or IEEE. The list of Titus' professional and technicalactivities, in addition to preparation and delivery of technical papersand leadership of national committees, covers pages and is listedelsewhere. As highlights, he chaired section and national committeesrising to President of AIEE in 1950-1 and leading the successful drivefor professional registration of engineers in Illinois prior to thattime. He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Engineering by his almamater, University of Idaho, in June 1951.
Titus' inventions include several patents on switching systems andautomatic data reading and recording and printing systems. The patentsare:
#1934434 Bus Construction. November 7, 1933
#2313752 Automatic Printing and Metering System March16, 1943
#2366913 Automatic Printing and Totalizing Metering SystemJune 9, 1945
#2366914 Printing Mechanism January 9, 1945
He was not only awarded these patents, but he also fought and won severalpatent infringement suits against those attempting to infringe upon thesepatents. To an extent, he was years ahead of his time, as these datagathering and recording systems were forerunners of the automated datagathering and recording systems developed in the 1960s to 1980s.
On a lighter side, he took part in non-technical activities as well.He was also a Director of the Beverly Hills University Club from 1936-9and its President from 1939-40.
After the end of World War II, when peaceful uses of atomic energywere pursued, his earlier patents and his position as Chief ElectricalEngineer in 1950-2 and Engineering Manager in 1952-4 put him in themiddle of feasibility studies on the Dresden Atomic Power Station. He wasappointed Project Sponsor of the Public Service Commonwealth Edison groupworking on the problem of providing electricity from nuclear fuel inMarch 1953. Working in cooperation with the U.S. Atomic EnergyCommission, this group prepared to specifications for the firstcommercial atomic power plant built without federal government funding.It was the largest atomic power plant of its time. The plant was firstfired up in October 1959, and was fully operational in 1960.
With successful completion of Dresden, Titus resigned fromCommonwealth Edison to became manager of nuclear power applications withGeneral Atomics, then a division of General Dynamics Corp. of San Diego,California. GD pioneered the development of the High Temperature GasCooled Reactor, which used helium gas to cool the pelletized nuclearfuel. The heated gas acted as the heat source to fire conventional steamturbines to generate electric power. Titus' work took him, oftenaccompanied by Amelie, to such locations as Japan, Australia, India, andmost of the European countries. The then standard retirement age of 65had no interest or meaning for him, and he continued to work more thatfull time well past that age.
He and Amelie moved from 610 Woodside Road in Hinsdale, Illinois andbought an home in San Diego in 1960, added a swimming pool, and shortlythereafter began building another home with pool on the ocean shore. Poolswimming was secondary, however, to ocean swimming. His usual dailyroutine, when not away on business travel, was to take a 1-2 mile swim inthe Pacific Ocean, which was not even 30 yards from his home. Often thepool was used by friends, children and grandchildren and as a backdropfor home social activities.
Titus was active in all ways right up to his death. On March 26,1968, while attending a major Southwest Electric Exchange conference inBoca Raton, Florida, he went swimming in the Atlantic Ocean in spite ofthe storm warning posted along the beach and died while swimming. Despitethe lack of water in the lungs, the death certificate state "Death bydrowning". He and Amelie had just celebrated their 38th weddinganniversary a week before and had plans to see their fifteenthgrandchild, Mark, born 4 days earlier in Denver, Colorado.
Titus had earlier taken out an insurance policy with a doubleindemnity clause naming the Episcopal Community Service of San Diego ashis beneficiary. As a result of his accidental death $125,000 wasbequeathed to this charity.
(Written by Richard and Hugh LeClair 7-30-86)
Titus LeClair appears in the Who's Who of 1954, then residing at 515North Walker Road in Hinsdale, and working at 72 West Adams Street inChicago. This biography lists the positions described in the note above.
Titus LeClair is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois asis his first wife, Alice Bessee.
- [S670] Society of Mayflower Descendants, Mayflower Index #60,370.
- [S673] State of Wisconsin Vital Records, Birth Certificate: Titus George LeClair, 26 Aug 1899.
Birth record was filed by Mrs. Jessie Fish LeClair on May 1, 1940. The form used was for births prior to October 1, 1907 (his was 26 Aug 1899). It appears that no filing was made at his actual time of birth.
- [S674] World War 1 Civilian Draft Registration, Rootsweb.com, (Frasier Park, California).
- [S677] State of Florida Vital Records, 68-018692.
Died in Boca Raton by Asphyxia from drowning at 2:20 PM on 3-26-98. On 3-28-98 his body was sent to Waldheim Crematory in Cook County, Illinois
- [S678] Social Security Death Benefit Records 1937-1993 - CD110.
Social Security nbr. 337-05-5692 Titus LeClair Born 08-26-1899, Died 03-1968, Residence Zip Code 92037 (LaJolla) California
- [S2034] State of New York Vital Records, Nbr. 10394.
Titus George LeClair & Alice Williams Bessee married 26 May 1922
State of New York Vital Records, Nbr. 10394, Titus George LeClair & Alice Williams Bessee married 26 May 1922. Residence was 244 Union Street, Schenectady, New York. Alice's home is listed as Moscow, Idaho.