The Passing of Frank L. Wellcome, Jr.

To the Williams community,

I write today to let you know we have recently learned that a college retiree has passed away. Frank Lindsay Wellcome, Jr., age 103, died April 20 in Topsham, Me. Frank worked in the college’s computing center, now the Office of Information Technology, from 1971 until his retirement in 1982 as a programmer/analyst.

Frank was born in 1914 in Yarmouth, Me. When he was 9, his family moved to Westbrook, Me. After his high school graduation, he worked for several years at S.D. Warren Co. before attending the University of Maine in Orono, where he majored in engineering physics. He joined the U.S. Army upon graduation in 1942, serving in the Army Signal Corps in Europe and earning the Bronze Star. He later served in the Army Reserves for 25 years, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel.

After returning home from the war in 1945, Frank married Fleta Bragdon Chick, whom he met at S.D. Warren. In 1955, Frank and Fleta moved their family to Williamstown after Frank took a job at Sprague Electric in North Adams working in the company’s magnetic division and later in inventory control. He came to Williams in 1971 to work in the computing center.

His coworkers remember that he was a whiz with the COBOL programming language, writing complex programs for the administrative computing branch that were the beginnings of administrative systems at Williams. He was a pioneer in writing our systems, and his contributions to Williams in these very early days of information technology helped the administration do its work before we began to purchase IT systems in 1982. One early program he wrote sent out mid-term warnings to first-years who weren’t doing well.

He was also well known on campus for his energy. A fellow retiree recalled that Frank trained him as his replacement, and would “walk me to and from Hopkins at breakneck speed and I struggled to keep up – and he was 68 at the time.”

Frank was also well known in the Massachusetts Masonic community. He joined the Masons in the 1930s, and became a Master Mason in the Warren Phillips Lodge in Westbrook in 1936, and remained a Mason for 81 years. Just last year, Frank was recognized as the longest-serving Mason in Massachusetts and was honored at a celebratory dinner.

According to his son, Frank was still memorizing poetry and doing crossword puzzles right up to his final days. While living at Sweetwood, a retirement center in Williamstown, Frank was famous for reciting poetry and limericks. Throughout his life he was a dedicated volunteer, including serving as a pack leader for the Cub Scouts and as a driver for the local Meals on Wheels program.

Although Frank lived in Williamstown for over 60 years, he always thought of himself as a Mainer. His last wish was to go home to Maine, which his family arranged to make happen. Asked once what his secret was to a long life, he said, “There’s no secret. Just take care of yourself.” He also shared what a teacher told him long ago, “If you worry about something, do what you can to take care of it. And after that, there’s no sense of worrying.”

Survivors include his son Stephen, and his wife, the Rev. Sylvia Stocker, of Brunswick, Me.; his grandson, David Wellcome of Richmond, Ind.; and many nieces and nephews. His wife Fleta pre-deceased him in 2005.

A memorial service for Frank is planned for 2 p.m. on June 24 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick, located at 1 Middle St. in Brunswick, Me.

Our thoughts are with Frank’s family and friends.

Best regards,

Adam Falk