- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2004

Leo G. B. Welt, 70, business executive

Leo Gerhard Bruno Welt, an expert on international trade and finance and D.C. resident since 1977, died Aug. 5 in his home of mantle cell lymphoma. He was 70.

Born in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Germany, he lived as a child in the Tiergarten section of Berlin. His father, a German Jew who was a Berlin newspaper reporter, died in a concentration camp in 1942.

Mr. Welt lived with his mother, two brothers and sister in Berlin during World War II. He and his brothers later lived in a Catholic orphanage in postwar Berlin at the time of the Berlin blockade.

In January 1950, Catholic Charities sent Mr. Welt to the United States, where he was adopted by the Kessler family of New York City and Oyster Bay, N.Y. He graduated from the Dwight School in 1957 and from Princeton University with honors in 1958.

Mr. Welt began his career in business in 1958 as an executive trainee with International Paper Co. He served as manager for overseas development for International Paper specializing in international trade and finance. He later performed similar duties for Weyerhauser as well as Rockwell International.

In 1980, Mr. Welt founded and served as president of the Potomac Exchange, which hosts biweekly luncheons for corporate executives with the new ambassadors to the United States.

In 1989, Mr. Welt founded the German American Business Council. In January, he was presented with Germany’s highest civilian award, the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit.

In 2002, Mr. Welt was presented with the National Defense Industrial Association’s Silver Medal for distinguished service.

He was known as the “bread man,” a nickname he earned in the homeless community delivering bread every morning.

Mr. Welt is survived by a daughter, Sabina Margaret Welt of New York; a son, Leo Gerhard Bruno Welt Jr. of Toronto; his former wife, Johanna, of Palm Beach, Fla.; and his longtime companion, Jane Cicala of the District.

Services have been held. In memoriam, it was Mr. Welt’s wish that his friends plant a tree.

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