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July, 2018 for Immediate Release

Redding, CA (July 6, 2018)

With a heavy heart, I write this announcement that on this past Friday, June 29th, at 9:01 PM, the co-founder and namesake of Ted Pella, Inc., Ted Pella, died and went to glory. He died on his 91st birthday from complications due to Alzheimer’s Disease, at Oakmont of Redding Retirement & Assisted Living Facility. He died with his wife Christel at his side.

He was preceded in death by his daughter Stephanie Pella Mills and his grandchild Christen Joy, and is survived by his wife Christel; his sister Alice Pella Prong; his son Thomas and daughter-in-law Diane; and his three grandchildren, Claire, Cornelia and Cameron.

Ted was born on June 29th, 1927 to the late Rudolph A. and Mary A. Ciesla Pella in East Rochester, NY. Ted’s character and spirit were molded by the kindness of his mother, a devout Catholic. He grew up in the Great Depression and while his family was poor, he never knew that, enjoying the simplicity of being around family and friends. While growing up he worked in the family grocery store. It was there that Ted’s passion for serving his customers was first planted and became a guiding principle wherever he worked.

Ted was a starter on the High School basketball team, was voted most likely to succeed, and graduated High School as the valedictorian of his class. But he skipped the ceremony and instead signed up for the Navy early in the summer of 1945. The war was ending, however, and the closest he got to the front lines was working in a discharge center in Memphis, TN.

His brief time in the service entitled him to attend college, and he returned home to attend the University of Rochester, getting a Bachelor’s degree in Physics in 1950. Upon graduation he moved to New York City and found temporary quarters at the YMCA. Shortly afterwards he saw a job posting there on an index card for a Sales Engineer for the Ivan Sorvall Company which was designing and selling laboratory instrumentation. This was a perfect fit for Ted, who was looking for something that combined business and science.

He went to work in field sales and service for Sorvall. Ted delivered the first commercial ultramicrotome ever sold, under his arm to the Rockefeller Institute in New York, taking a train to get there. He greatly enjoyed visiting with customers, helping repair instruments in their labs and finding ways to help. Not long after joining Sorvall, Mr. Sorvall passed and the company was bought by LKB, another scientific instrument company, based out of Sweden. Ted continued his sales work for LKB and began to rise in the ranks until he oversaw sales for the USA.

It was during this period in 1956 that LKB sent him to Sweden for further instrument training. The person conducting the training was a TEM Technician at Karolinska Institute named Christel, and thus began a relationship which led to Christel emigrating to the USA, and their getting married in 1957. They were married for 60 years, celebrating that anniversary last year.

Ted was eventually promoted to VP of Sales at LKB, and the family moved to Sweden in 1966. But Ted was not a good fit for the Swedish culture and the home office. During a vacation Ted bounced the idea off Chris: Why don't we start our own business back in the states? Chris had a spirit of adventure and they agreed to start it together. The family moved back to the states in late 1967, this time to Southern California where on Jan. 1, 1968 Ted Pella, Inc. was started.

The business started in their garage and den. They soon hired their first employee at home to help type; and a few years later moved into their first office space. The company slowly grew and added employees, and they worked many hours to make ends meet and meet the needs of their customers.

The time finally came when they wanted to own their own building; but this was the time of the great real estate boom of the 1980's and no land was easily available nearby in Orange County for building. The City of Redding, California eventually "found" them at a trade show in 1986 and introduced them to what Northern California had to offer. Ted & Chris moved the company to Redding in the Spring of 1987. At that time the number of employees had grown to 19.

Ted & Chris continued to own and manage the company for 44 years, until 2010 when the number of employees was over 60. They then passed ownership and management to their son Tom, but continued to be involved into their mid 80’s until they finally retired in 2014, having served the microscopy community for over 60 years. Even at the 2017 Neurosciences show a number of customers asked how Ted was doing, having enjoyed meeting him at the booth in a trade show.

The company will observe a special half-day holiday in Ted’s honor and close next Wednesday, July 11th, in the afternoon to hold a Memorial Service at the Dignity Memorial McDonald’s Chapel in Redding and a reception afterwards at Karline’s Restaurant for employees and friends. If anyone wishes to express their condolences to Christel and post a note about Ted for that event, please send them to [email protected] and it will be included in an album being presented to Christel.

Tom Pella
Ted Pella, Inc.