Colonel Albert John "Red" Wetzel

  • Born: December 29, 1917
  • Died: December 26, 2009
  • Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

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5100 Pontchartrain Blvd
New Orleans, LA 70124
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Tribute & Message From The Family

Colonel Albert John "Red" Wetzel, 91, of New Orleans, died Saturday, December 26, 2009. Col. Wetzel was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on 29 December 1917 to Emelie Willoz Wetzel and Albert John Wetzel. He is survived by His wife of 63 years, Helen Wetzel and sister Marion Morgan of Atlanta, GA, son Albert J. Wetzel Jr, of New Orleans; daughters Elizabeth Wetzel McCormick of The Woodlands, TX, Joan Wetzel of New Orleans and son E. Russell Wetzel of Madison, AL. Grandchildren John Wetzel, Franklin Wetzel and Peter Wetzel of Madison, AL; Son-in-Law Eugene F. McCormick of The Woodlands,TX and Daughter in law Janet Wetzel of Madison AL. Col. Wetzel attended St. Alphonse and St Matthias Elementary Schools. He was a member of the class of 1934 of Jesuit High School which he attended on an academic scholarship. Col. Wetzel was admitted into the Tulane University School of Engineering on an Alumni Scholarship. While at Tulane he was a Member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, United States Marine Corp Platoon Leaders Program, as well as Engineering Student Body President. He was graduated from Tulane in 1939. Col. Wetzel joined the United States Army Reserve and was called to active duty and received a commission in early 1941. In the year 1957, Col. Wetzel was selected to run the Titan (I and II) Missile Program as a part of the Western Development Division in Los Angeles, later Ballistic Missile Division. It was during this time that he earned the title "Mr. Titan". Col. Wetzel retired from military service in 1965. With a loving wife and 4 small children, Col. Wetzel then commenced his career with Tulane University as Director of Research and Special Programs, continuing through a 25 year career to his post as Vice President for Development, Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Advisor to the President. During this time he served as an advisor to the Presidents Scientific Advisory Council (PSAC). Col Wetzel retired from Tulane with the title of Emeritus-Vice President. Col. Wetzel was known for his irrepressible optimism, commitment to duty, faith and family. His Military decorations were numerous and included the Legion of Merit. He was a recipient of the Papel Order-Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, He was member of the United States Air Force Space Hall of Fame, The Paul Tulane Society, Chairman, Tulane Univ. Emeritus Society, Tulane Engineering Hall of Fame, The Order of St Louis, Veterans of Foreign Wars, National Eagle Scout Organization, A Board Member of the Walter Teagle Foundation, Board Member of the Crippled Children's Hospital, The Council on Music and the Performing arts, Conseil pour le développement du français en Louisiane (CODOFIL), He was appointed by Mayor Victor Schiro as a Trustee of the Delgado College Board. Col Wetzel was President Emeritus, Member and founding Director of the New Orleans Catholic Foundation, Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of America, Rotary International (Paul Harris Fellow), a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a commissioner of the Louisiana Educational Television Authority, Vice President of the New Orleans Area Chamber of Commerce, Air Force Association, The Navy League, Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, Order Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (Knight Comdr. with star), Knight of Malta. Col Wetzel was a member of the University Club (New York), Army Navy Club (Washington, DC), The Plimsoll Club, The Bienville Club and the International House.
Relatives and friends of the family are invited to attend a Funeral Mass at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, 6367 St. Charles Ave. on Wednesday December 30, 2009 at 12 Noon. Visitation at the church Wednesday morning from 10:00 AM until funeral time. Following the mass, ther will be a reception at Lambeth House, 150 Broadway. Interment will follow in Arlington National Cemetery. As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to the benevolent organization of your choice.
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Condolence & Memory Journal


Dear Mrs Wetzel, Russ, Al, Joan and Liz,
It has always been an honor to have known Colonel Wetzel. I first met "Red" when Russ and I were Engineering students at Tulane. I have many fond memories when he and Helen graciously hosted me, along with so many of Russ's other friends, in their family's uptown New Orleans home. During later visits Colonel Wetzel eagerly shared with me from his fascinating experiences leading the Titan missile program, which inspired me as a young engineer when I too had the opportunity to work on the Titan program. Natalie and I send our heartfelt condolences to the entire Wetzel family and pray that God's grace will sustain you in the difficult days ahead.

Posted by David & Natalie Six - Ogden, UT - Friend of son Russ   January 03, 2010

I met Colonel Wetzel once, during a business trip to New Orleans with Russ. I still remember all the photos from his career on the wall, including personal photos from people like General Lemay.

My deepest sympathies to Colonel Wetzel's family.

Posted by Thomas Clark - Toney, AL - Friend of son, Russ Wetzel   December 31, 2009

Mrs. Wetzel, Liz, Joan, and the Wetzel family:
I was very sad to learn of Col. Wetzel's death. My condolences to your family.
Wendy King

Posted by Wendy King - New Orleans, LA   December 31, 2009

Helen, What sad news. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.


Posted by Shirley - metairie, LA   December 30, 2009


Much love to you all on this day. Our hearts are with you as you grieve the loss of Uncle Red.

Rachel and Ivan Nekrasov and family

Posted by Rachel Nekrasov - great niece   December 30, 2009


Hello Family,

I hope someone in the Wetzel and Morgan families will be able to see this. My family and I are sending our love and condolences to the Wetzels and Morgans and pray for comfort at Uncle Red's passing. I have truly fond memories of him and I have great honor in my heart towards Uncle Red for all that he has done for our country. Much love, Rachel Nekrasov (formerly Schneier)

Posted by Rachel Nekrasov - Great niece   December 30, 2009

Colonial Wetzel was a most nobel man yet humble and had an endless love for his family.
He is with our heavenly Father. Praise Jesus!

Posted by Leonard Christensen - New Orleans, LA   December 30, 2009


May the God of all bring the comfort that surpasses all of our imagination and understanding....I know that you all will mourn his passing, but I am thankful that you all have the memories that you shared with him that will remain forever in your minds and hearts....I pray for God's comfort and peace that it be great during this time.

Posted by Sharon Nix - Slidell, LA - friend of Joan   December 30, 2009

Dear Mrs. Wetzel and family,

I was so sorry to recieve the news of Col Wetzel's passing. I have always regarded "Red" as one of finest examples of an Air Force officer and a true engineer. He showed the rest of us what can be accomplished if we apply ourselves and resolve to do our very best. I'm very thankful to have known him. Holly and I were so humbled and honored to have been invited by you to attend his induction ceremony into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2003. I was so impressed, not only with his distinguished record, but also with his effortless blending of wit and humor into his remarks. He was a very gifted man and we will all miss him very much.

Please accept our sincere condolences and know that our love and prayers are with you all.

Posted by Stephen and Holly Six - Colorado Springs, CO   December 29, 2009

Mrs. Wetzel, Joe, Elizabeth, Joan, and Russ my condolences. "Red" and my father are in heaven now together,talking about life and love, family, children grandchildren, New orleans, the saints and Tulane. "Red" was a great man, he gave us a great family, great friends, great neighbors and will be fondly remembered.

Posted by Bin Manson - New Orleans, LA   December 29, 2009

Mrs. Wetzel, Joe, Elizabeth, Joan, and Russ,
I have always thought of your husband and father as someone who set the standard for being really cool in his generation. He was an engineer, a pilot, and ran the Titan program... but he was also had that quiet sense of authority that was part of that generation's strength. I shall lift you'all up in prayer for comfort.
I have always appreciated your family's hospitality and open door policy when I was a poor(!) hungry(!!) student at Tulane.

Posted by skip lightner - Richardson, TX   December 28, 2009

Dear Helen and Family,
We are sad to hear about the loss of our dear Red. He was always a stalwart supporter and dedicated alumnus of his university. We will miss him very much.

With deep sympathies,

Posted by Charlotte Travieso - New Orleans, LA   December 28, 2009

I remember Cononel Wetzel from my many years at Tulane University. The year 1965, when he sterted his career there, was also my first years at Tulane, and he and I met on several social occasions. I could always tell that he was a loyal Tulanian at all times. May he now rest in peace.

Posted by Thomas Hofer - Morgan City, LA   December 28, 2009