Local business, sports icon Robert ‘Bob’ Welmer dies

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Robert “Bob” Welmer, a Columbus athlete, businessman and sports booster whose annual fall fish frys attracted legions of fans, famous athletes, coaches and local and state leaders, died this week while visiting family in Florida. He was 94.

Welmer died while visiting his son, Steve, in Brandon, Florida, just days after friends and family had gathered at the Eagles Lodge in Columbus to celebrate Welmer’s 94th birthday. Welmer also is the father of David Welmer of Columbus, whose wife is Columbus Clerk-Treasurer Luann Welmer.

Welmer’s passing was announced at Indiana University’s Assembly Hall during Wednesday’s game in Bloomington against Rutgers.

A member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Welmer was an all-state player at Columbus High School who graduated in 1947 holding multiple scoring records. He played college basketball at Tulane and the University of Cincinnati.

He went on to become owner of Barco Beverage Company in Columbus, which later became Monarch Beverage.

Welmer’s name became synonymous with an annual fish fry that grew from humble origins of a few friends fishing on the Flatrock River to a become a local institution that annually attracted hundreds of people.

For the complete story, see Saturday’s Republic.