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William Bellano, 91; President of Occidental Petroleum in Early '70s

March 15, 2004|From Associated Press

William Bellano, a former president of Occidental Petroleum Corp. and a longtime oil industry executive, has died. He was 91.

Bellano died March 8 in Tucson, where he had lived in a retirement home since 1990. A son of Italian immigrants who was orphaned at age 6, Bellano was born in Philadelphia and was raised in a boarding school for impoverished children. His first job was as a clerk in an ice cream factory. He earned a bachelor's degree in mining engineering in 1936 from Penn State, then embarked on a long career in the mining, processing and energy industries.

He worked for several years in Peru's high mountain mines, then joined the Marines after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

He volunteered to work in bomb demolitions, and became an expert in the field in the Pacific theater, receiving a Silver Star in 1944 for gallantry in the Marshall Islands. Bellano later received two Bronze Stars for heroism at Iwo Jima, Saipan and Tinian.

Bellano returned to the mining industry after the war and advanced through the corporate hierarchy. He held positions with a number of companies in various locations, including International Mineral, Island Creek Coal Co., Glen Alden Corp. and finally Occidental Petroleum.

Bellano was named president of Occidental Petroleum in February 1970 and retired in January 1972. He continued as an industrial consultant for members of the U.S. Senate and served on the President's Energy Advisory Council until 1984.

Before his death, Bellano created the Bill Bellano Foundation to support the disenfranchised: orphans, foster children and children with learning disabilities.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Dee; a son, a daughter and four grandchildren.

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