George P. Kelley, a co-founder and former chairman of Langan Engineering & Environmental Services Inc. who championed leadership development through empowerment at the now 1,000-employee Parsippany, N.J.-based firm, died on June 18 after battling cancer, says a family obituary. He was 75.

Kelley, a 48-year company veteran, served as a managing principal and as board chairman of the privately held firm from 2005 to 2015. He was a "pragmatic and extremely talented engineer, a mentor to many," said Langan CEO David T. Gockel. 

The firm, founded in 1970, took on projects with complex regulatory issues and challenging subsurface conditions, often in urban areas involving major contamination cleanup and redevelopment.

Among those he led was a $30-million cleanup and demolition in the 1990s of the former Scovill Brass manufacturing complex, a 100-acre site in downtown Waterbury, Conn., that was being redeveloped. The site included more than 90 contaminated and structurally compromised buildings, some dating to the early 19th century, Kelley said. Langan was site construction manager in joint venture with Fusco Corp., New Haven, Conn.

He was also appointed in 1998 by former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) to the state's Brownfield Redevelopment Task Force, joining other industry professionals to assist in state redevelopment of contaminated N.J. industrial sites.

Kelley earned civil engineering degrees from Duke University and Purdue University, and he served two tours in Vietnam in the U.S. Naval Construction Battalion ("Seebees") as a lieutenant from 1965 to 1967.

The company said "his commitment to Langan employees is underscored annually with the George P. Kelley Empowerment Award," earned by an employee "who demonstrates leadership results through empowerment."

Amanda Norton, a Langan engineer, said in an online post that she recalled "how excited he was to be able to share his wisdom and experiences" at a company career fair in 2016 with Kelley. "You could see his passion, enthusiasm, and love for geotechnical engineering."

Michael Porcelli, executive vice president of Sciame Construction, said his firm "worked with George on many of our important projects. He was a close friend and colleague and the most knowledgeable engineer I know." He added: "The mentoring he gave to the employees of Langan was and will always be very apparent."

Kelley served on the advisory board for the College of Science and Mathematics at Montclair University in Montclair, N.J., and was a board director of the American Council of Engineering Companies.