CARBONDALE - Harvey Welch,Jr., was born on June 5, 1932, in Centralia, IL and died on Saturday, May 4, 2019, at Memorial Hospital in Carbondale, IL. He is survived by his wife of 36 and a half years, Patricia (Trish). He was our dear father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, and uncle. He was also an “honorary father and grandfather” to Trish’s sister’s four daughters and their children.
Harvey is survived by his four children from a previous marriage and their spouses: Harvey Cato Welch (Anita), Gordon Patrick Welch (Retha), Karen Annette Welch Edwards (Terry), and Brian David Welch (Petrice). He leaves behind eleven grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews all of whom brought great joy and happiness into his life.
Harvey was born in Centralia, Illinois, to Willie and Harvey Welch. His father died when he was young, so his mother raised her five children as well as two nephews and a niece alone--despite having only a sixth-grade education. Harvey is survived by one brother, Robert.
In 1950 Harvey graduated from Centralia High School where he excelled in academics and sports, mainly basketball. He then enrolled at Centralia Township Junior College (now Kaskaskia College), setting new scoring records before transferring to Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale, IL. At SIU he became the first black Saluki athlete to earn a basketball letter. He was also a two-time All-Conference pick and ranked among SIU’s scoring leaders. He was elected to the Saluki Athletic Hall of Fame.
While at SIU, he enrolled in the United States Air Force ROTC program, and became SIU’s first black AF-ROTC graduate. Following his graduation, he received his commission as a 2nd lieutenant and entered the United States Air Force in June, 1955. During his distinguished military career, he was based overseas in Korea, and later in Turkey. He most valued the time he spent working with young officers as they made critical educational decisions.
Harvey retired in 1975 as a Lieutenant Colonel having served as a Training Officer, Administrative Officer, Squadron Commander, Group Operations Officer, Higher Education Program Manager, Director of Air Force Civilian Institutions Special Programs, Professor of Aerospace Students, Commandant of Cadets, and Training Advisor to the Commandant of the Turkish Air Force. It was during his time in military service that he developed his love of the game of golf.
In the fall of 1975, Harvey came back to his alma mater, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL, as Dean of Students. In 1987, he was selected to be SIU’s Vice President/Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, a position from which he retired in 2000. From February 1995 until December 1997, he was concurrently the Chief Student Officer at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville as residence halls were being constructed. He took great pride in this challenging dual assignment and the opportunity to utilize his vast experience working with university students.
Achieving success in his chosen career field was only one of Harvey Welch’s lifetime goals. He was raised to help others and embraced the concept of “giving back.” He did this through organizations to which he gave his time and resources, such as Epiphany Lutheran Church where he served several terms as president of the congregation. He likewise served a six year term on the Board of Directors of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI), and was a long-time member of LSSI’s Cornerstone Board.
Harvey served as Rotarian District 6510 Governor having been previously elected president of Carbondale’s Rotary Club. Rotary International’s motto: “Service above Self” matched Harvey’s personal philosophy on life. Whenever Harvey traveled overseas, he loved to wear his Rotary hat with all its pins as he often was greeted by Rotarians from all over the world.
A round of golf was clearly his favorite leisure activity--due to the individual nature of the athletic challenge. He loved the challenge of the game and the camaraderie with fellow golfers. He was a student of the history of golf, and played golf at St. Andrews in Scotland, Ballybunion in Ireland, and Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, as well as courses in China and Japan. He also saw golf as a way to break barriers between cultures whether he hosted foreign visitors at Hickory Ridge Golf Course in Carbondale or was being hosted across the globe. Because of his own appreciation for golf, his support for “First Tee” (an international program to introduce the game of golf to children) naturally followed.
In Carbondale, he devoted countless hours to its Park District Board of Directors including serving as its president for many years, and was a relentless supporter of the development of Hickory Ridge Golf Course and a public swimming pool. As with many of Harvey’s dreams, he and Trish made significant monetary gifts in support of these dreams for Carbondale. He was head cheerleader for the game of golf in Carbondale for decades. The park district in return named the large shelter at its Hickory Ridge Golf Course, the “Harvey Welch Pavilion.” He was honored to be one of Carbondale’s first citizens to wade into the pool of Carbondale’s new Splash Park.
Another passion of Harvey’s was hunting. He often went deer hunting with Jake Bach. Harvey and his brother, Bob, often traveled to South Dakota for a week of pheasant hunting on the farms of Trish’s cousins. Over time, he developed close friendships with fellow pheasant hunters who invited Bob and Harvey, for many years, to hunt rabbits on their property in rural Missouri.
Harvey and Trish likewise generously gave of their time and resources in their efforts to raise funds for the SIU student scholarships bearing their names. They did this by sponsoring an annual golf scramble tournament. Through this event, Harvey and Trish provided an easy way for their many friends and golfing buddies to provide financial support for SIU students. In 2018, Harvey received the prestigious “Service to Southern” award from SIU’s Board of Trustees.
Harvey and Trish have a long history of supporting musical theater at SIU through the Friends of McLeod Summer Playhouse. In 2007, Harvey, supported by Lori Fink, won the grand prize for raising the most money for the theater by singing a memorable duet, “Sue me” (from Guys and Dolls) at the annual “Singing with the Stars” fundraiser.
Harvey took an active role in Carbondale’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, serving from 1978 until 2017. He was a visible presence as Carbondale integrated its fire and police departments. But, many had no idea that Harvey interviewed virtually every professional hired by Carbondale’s police and fire departments for decades. He served as a member of Carbondale’s Personnel Board from 1978 to 2017. In 2006, he received the Carbondale Citizen of the Year award.
The funeral service for Harvey Welch, Jr. will be at 10:30 AM on Thursday, May 9, 2019, at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 1501 W. Chautauqua Street in Carbondale, IL, Pastor Paul Waterman presiding. The internment will follow at Oakland Cemetery. Visitation is on Wednesday evening, May 8, from 5 to 8 PM at Epiphany Lutheran Church.
Memorial gifts in Harvey’s memory may be made to:
Lutheran Social Services of Illinois
1001 E. Touhy Avenue
Des Plaines, IL 60018
Harvey Welch Scholarship Fund
SIU Foundation, Colyer Hall,
1235 Douglas Drive
Mail Code 6805,
Carbondale, Illinois 62901-4308.
Information and envelopes are available on the table in the church entry.