CHICAGO — Weldbend Corp.'s founder and CEO, James J. Coulas Sr., died July 4, apparently of heart failure. He was 92.
Originally named Viking Valve and Fitting Co., he founded the industrial fittings and flange company in 1950. He took an active role in running Weldbend with son and President James Coulas Jr. until his death.
Coulas' first business venture was buying produce from a market near his Chicago home, loading it into a wagon and selling it door-to-door. As a high school student, he organized dances, which led him in 1932 to open the Viking Ballroom, which remained in operation until 1953. Other ventures included selling coal and working as a secretary for the cotton registrar at the Chicago Board of Trade.
Coulas' interests included flying his own airplane. His interest in history led him to become an admirer of Winston Churchill, whose photograph was placed prominently in his office.
As evidenced in Weldbend's colorful ads that run in CONTRACTOR and elsewhere, he advocated domestic manufacturing. He was proud of the part he played in helping to design new machinery at Weldbend's plant in Bedford Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Irma Coulas; daughters Irma Hammer, Cathleen (Joseph) Hosteny and Carol Jean Coulas; son James Jr. (Colleen); and grandchildren Irma (James) Henderson, Stephanie (Thomas) Krabbe, Michael Hammer, Joseph (Claire) Hosteny, Laura Hosteny, Alexis, Alana and Andrew James Lucyshyn , Colleen (Jeffrey) Davis, James, Kristin and Kevin Coulas. He was the brother of the late Leona Reich.
Memorials can be made to Christ the King School Foundation, P.O. Box 42-8580, Chicago, IL 60642 or Poor Clares Monastery, 12210 S. Will-Cook Rd., Palos Park, IL 60464.