Lockheed Martin’s First Chairman and CEO, Daniel M. Tellep, Passes Away

Lockheed Martin’s First Chairman and CEO, Daniel M. Tellep, Passes Away
December 17, 2020

Lockheed Martin is saddened to learn of the death of our first chairman and CEO, Daniel M. Tellep. He passed away peacefully and surrounded by family on Nov. 26. He was 89 years old.

“Dan was a visionary behind the ‘merger of equals’ that created Lockheed Martin in 1995,” said President and CEO Jim Taiclet. “His boldness and determination as a leader exemplified the spirit that has made this company great and helped us create the innovative products that still protect lives and liberties around the world.”

Tellep began his career at Lockheed Corp. in 1955 as a principal scientist in the Missiles & Space Co. subsidiary. Of his many honors, he was particularly proud of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ 1964 Lawrence Sperry award that recognized his contributions to re-entry technology and advancements in the field of heat transfer. He worked at Lockheed his entire career, rising to CEO.

He was the first to propose Lockheed’s merger with Martin Marietta, recognizing that in an era of shrinking defense budgets, a combined company would be stronger. Tellep and Martin Marietta’s Norman R. Augustine spent a year secretly negotiating the deal, using fake names to meet in off-the-radar cities to discuss the details. (Read the complete story of this historic “merger of equals”.)

“Dan and I had been good friends as well as business competitors for many years, even before the opportunity to create Lockheed Martin appeared,” Augustine shared in an email. “He was a superb engineer, a visionary and a quality human being who truly impacted our nation as well as our company. I count myself fortunate to have known Dan and will truly miss him.”

The merger created the world’s largest defense company, with a combined rich history dating back to the early days of aviation. Tellep became Lockheed Martin’s first chairman and CEO in 1995. He served as CEO for only nine months, but he remained as chairman until 1998.

“The ‘merger of equals’ led to innovations and capabilities that continue to protect our nation, our allies, and our highest ideals,” said Executive Chairman Marillyn Hewson. “Dan will always be remembered by the men and women of Lockheed Martin as a trailblazer who helped inaugurate a new chapter for two great companies.” 

Tellep’s family shared this tribute about his life and legacy.