Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Richard "Dick" Welch

MERRIMACK - Richard "Dick" Welch, 84, died at Hospice House in Concord surrounded by his family on Friday, Dec. 7, 2007. He died after a short illness from heart failure.

Dick was born in Adams, Mass., to Glorena (Rousseau) and Thomas F. Welch on May 11, 1923. He graduated from Adams High School in 1941 and attended St. Michael's College in Winooski, Vt. He graduated from St. Mike's in 1946, after serving in World War II. He also attended Grenoble University in France after the war ended and Bucknell University.

He served in World War II from 1943 to 1946. He was in the U.S. Army, Black Emblem Panther 66th Division. He served in France from December 1944 until the war ended and was discharged at Fort Devens, Mass., April 20, 1946. He said that is when his life started again, as many men and women returned from the war at that time in the history of our great country.

Dick married Margaret Rice on Sept. 2, 1946, at St. Bridget's Church in West Rutland, Vt. He met his wife in Winooski, Vt., at a college social with St. Mike's and Fannie Allen Nursing School, where Margaret was a nursing student.

Dick taught at a private school in Wilkes Barre, Pa., from 1947 to 1951. He taught science, math, and coached sports at the Wilkes Barre Day School.

In 1951, he returned to West Rutland, Vt., where he went to work as a salesman for DuBois Chemicals. Dick and Margaret raised their family in West Rutland, residing at 18 Barnes Street, living with his wife's parents, William and Anna (Stebbins) Rice in the home built by Marg's grandfather, John Rice, from Ireland.

Dick was active in community and church events during his years in West Rutland. He was a member of the West Rutland School Board, being its chairman for a number of years. He was also active in the St. Bridget's parish. He coached Little League, CYO teams and taught CCD classes at the high school level. He was active at the state level with the Vermont Confraternity of Christian Doctrine during the 1960s. He was a 4th Degree Grand Knight in the Rutland Knights of Columbus.

In 1974, he was transferred to Denver, Colo., and made his home at Heather Gardens in Aurora, Colo. until 2002. He was a regional manager for DuBois Chemicals, retiring in 1985. His region covered Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, New Mexico, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Colorado.

Dick, Marg and their son Geoff cherished their 28 years living in Colorado, where they developed many wonderful friendships and enjoyed the quality of life.

Dick was a charter member of the Aurora Optimist Club. He helped start the Aurora Boys and Girls Club Christmas food drive. He was known for his fundraisers and pancake breakfasts. He was involved in their condominium association. He played tennis, golf, cribbage and enjoyed working in the woodworking shop. He belonged to the American Legion.

In 2002, he returned to New Hampshire, living at Society Hill in Merrimack. In these later years, Dick developed great cooking skills, taught himself to play the keyboard and spent hours playing for his wife, family and friends. He would often call in friends for the evening and play music from the 1940s. He was known for his wonderful Sunday dinners, followed by music on his keyboard. Playing gave him great joy. He volunteered at a local nursing home over the late summer, playing the keyboard, until his health made it difficult to continue volunteering. He continued to play, even in his final days at Concord Hospital and Hospice House.

Dick belonged to St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Bedford. St. Elizabeth Seton became a place of great spiritual support in their life back in New England. He recently was honored with lifelong membership to the Knights of Columbus through St. Elizabeth Seton's and helped organize a fundraiser for bringing the plaque of the Ten Commandments to his parish. A dedication was recently held because of Dick's vision and efforts.

Dick didn't bring a lot of attention to himself, but for the many people whose lives he touched in quiet, thoughtful ways, he will always be remembered. He was charitable in his time on this earth, giving of himself, financially and personally. He modeled hardwork, integrity and compassion. He will be greatly missed by many.

Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Margaret Rice Welch; two sons, Geoffrey of Merrimack and Gregory Welch of Weymouth, Mass; close friend, Madeline Flood of Halifax, Mass.; two daughters, Peg Welch of Manchester and Anne Wilkinson and her husband, Kirk, of Concord; and a granddaughter, Jill Grabowski of Watertown, Mass. He also leaves the children of Kirk, Erik and Susan Wilkinson and their children, Kirk and Emily, of Longmont, Colo., Mark Wilkinson and Annunziata Gianzero of Los Angeles, Carll and Stephanie Wilkinson of Falmouth, Maine, and Barbara Wilkinson of Somersworth. In addition, he leaves his Colorado family of Carmen, Bruce, David, Derek and Dusten Clark of Highlands Ranch, Colo.; special friend, Abi Adams Bennett; and a man's true best friend, Reilly.

He is also survived by his sister, Lucille Wandrey of Cumberland, R.I.; Peg Given and her husband, John, of Woburn, Mass.; and Charles Welch and his wife, Mary, of Adams, Mass. He leaves many nieces and nephews.

Calling hours will be tomorrow from 4 to 6 p.m. at the George R. Rivet Funeral Home 425 Daniel Webster Hwy. Merrimack 03054.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday at noon at St. Elizabeth Seton Church, Meetinghouse Road in Bedford.

A spring burial will take place at St. Bridget's Cemetery in West Rutland, Vt.

Memorial donations may be made to Concord Regional Visiting Nurses Association's Hospice House, P.O. Box 1797, Concord 03302-1797; or the NH Association for the Blind, 25 Walker St. Concord 03301.

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