James W. Welch, 93, of Columbus, died at 5:20 a.m. Tuesday, August 9, 2016, at Our Hospice of South Central Indiana.
James, the son of Harry & Matilda Welch, was born December 17, 1922. He grew up in the small town of Montezuma, Indiana.
Since there were three “James” in his class in school, he was called “JW” or “J” by his family and friends, but became “Jim” after leaving Montezuma. He was proud of his roots and told many stories of growing up in a small Indiana town during the Depression. Despite the hard times, fun was always available, such as winter sledding down into the nearby gravel pit, and summer swimming in the local pool filled with mineral water.
In his teen years, Jim delivered newspapers to the southern half of Montezuma, then later to the northern half, getting to know almost everybody in town. It wasn’t always easy to collect money for the papers in those hard times of the Depression Years, but he learned compassion and caring for others from his father, an insurance salesman, who often paid the bills himself until his customers had the money for their premiums. His mother, an English teacher, taught him excellent grammar, the value of laughter, a positive but humble outlook on life, a loving nature and good manners. His parents and membership in Boy Scouts taught him to work to reach goals and be a gentleman at all times. His mother died when Jim was 14, leaving his father with five children to raise. His father’s determination, responsibility and loyalty to his family as he struggled to keep them together through the difficult years that followed, taught Jim valuable lessons that helped to mold his character even more.
Jim’s parents valued education, and he attended Indiana Business College after high school graduation. Joining the Navy in 1943, he studied at the University of Chicago and became a radioman. He joined the crew of a Landing Ship Medium as it sailed on its maiden voyage down the Chicago, Illinois, and Mississippi Rivers and through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean to join World War II.
After three years in the Navy, Jim earned a Business Degree from Indiana University in 1949. Soon after graduation he married his first love, Libby (Elizabeth) Amos.
He held several business-related positions in Brazil and Indianapolis until 1961. At that time Dave Brumett invited him to Columbus to be manufacturer’s representative for his company, Product Engineering Company (PECO). During this time, Jim and Libby adopted two beautiful little girls, Pam and Sandy, who made their lives happy and complete.
Jim retired from PECO in 1985 as Vice President. His plan was to play golf and travel with his beloved wife, Libby, but she died suddenly the next year, leaving him alone. He found solace in working at Otter Creek, the fellowship of Kiwanis and High 12, meeting his Lambda Chi Brothers every year and volunteering at Hospice, the hospital and First United Methodist Church. He also enjoyed the companionship of a longtime friend, Wanda Zuckschwerdt, to whom he was eventually married for a few years, before she also died in 1992.
In 1994 a friend from FUMC played cupid and suggested lonely Jim call Betty Brown, widow of Elwyn Brown, who also died in 1992. They had known of each other for many years through their church connection, but had never really met or talked with each other. Much to the delight of their children, who all grew up together in the church, the match was perfect, and with pleasure, all attended their wedding in 1995.
In the years that followed, Jim and Betty lived happily in Columbus. They talked for hours with each other, hosted family gatherings, enjoyed the company of numerous friends, traveled to many interesting places, continued with their volunteer and church activities, played many rounds of golf, enjoyed working in their yard and loved life and each other.
Jim was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2001, but the slow progress of the disease allowed a fairly normal life for several more years. Even though Alzheimer’s eventually claimed all of his memories, he continued to be sociable, kind, sweet and loving. Two wonderful caregivers, in addition to Betty, helped make both their lives pleasant and special. We are very grateful for Pam Petro and Monita Emrich for the many hours of attentive, loving care.
Preceded in death by his parents and sisters Virginia Norton and Alice Navel, he is survived by his loving wife, Betty; daughters, Pamela (Ken) Maschino and Sandra Winship of Columbus; grandchildren, Lindsey, Eric and Jessica Winship; three great-grandchildren; and siblings, Martha Brown and Allen Welch. Also, he leaves three stepchildren, Susan (John) Bennett of Idaho, Nance (Bob) Buchert of Hartford City and Jeff (Julie) Brown of Sidell, Illinois; five stepgranddaughters, Heather (Ryan) Roscoe, Jill (Nick) Zelaya, Melissa (Chris) Hale, Jana (Cody) Shipman and Tracy Brown; and seven stepgreat-grandchildren.
Funeral service will be a noon Friday at Myers-Reed Chapel on 25th Street with the Rev. Howard Boles officiating. Calling will be Friday from 10 a.m. until service time. Burial with military honors conducted by the Bartholomew County Veterans Color Guard will be at Garland Brook Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church or Our Hospice of South Central Indiana.
Online condolences may be sent to the Welch family at myers-reed.com.