William “Bill” G. Welch, Sr., 97, passed away on Monday, January 4, 2021 at his home in Onalaska, WI. He was born in La Crosse, WI on June 6, 1923 to Charles H. and Katherine (Stangl) Welch.
Bill attended La Crosse Lincoln and St Joseph’s Cathedral grade schools and graduated from Aquinas High School in 1940. During those years he sang in the Cathedral Boys Choir and served mass at the Cathedral and St. Rose Convent. Following high school he attended The Illinois Institute of Technology and La Crosse State Teachers College.
His education was interrupted by his enlistment in the US Army, during World War II, where he served as a Technical Sargent in the Army Signal Corps and was stationed at various locations in the US and the South Pacific.
Following WWII he owned Welch Radio TV and Appliance until its closing in 1959. He then worked for SM Supply Co. until he was hired in 1961 by the La Crosse Vocational School, now Western Technical College, to start and teach a program in electronics. During his first few years of teaching he was also able to complete his Bachelor’s Degree at La Crosse State Teachers College and his Master’s Degree at Stout State University. In addition he was also able to obtain his First Class Radio-Telephone License. During his 25 years at Western he was instrumental in the development and growth of the Industrial Technologies Division and retired as Dean of Industrial Technologies in 1986.
He was united in marriage with Mary Funke on September 3, 1949 at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in La Crosse, WI. They were married for 55 years until Mary’s death in 2005. Bill and Mary had four children and together transformed a stone quarry horse barn into a wonderful family home at the foot of Grandad Bluff, living there for 44 years. Bill was a great husband, father and family man. He enjoyed boating, camping and traveling with his family. He was the original DIYer, with interests in woodworking, electronics and tinkering, in general. Upon his retirement, Bill and Mary traveled around the country in their travel trailer and discovered Jupiter, FL where they bought a condo and wintered there for 25 years.
Bill was a devout Catholic and attended mass nearly every day. In La Crosse he was a member of St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral Parish where he was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Cathedral cooking club. In Florida he was a member of St Patrick’s Church in Palm Beach Gardens, where he was very active in the choir.
He was a member of the American Legion, the American Technical Education Association, Wisconsin and La Crosse Retired Educators Associations and the La Crosse and Onalaska Historical Societies.
In September 2011 he was a proud participant in Freedom Honor Flight #8.
He is survived by his children: William, Jr. (Catherine) Welch, Onalaska, WI; Michael (Bonnie) Welch, Boca Raton, FL; Mary (Patrick) Lee, Holmen, WI; Patricia Welch (Daniel Walker), Madison, WI. Grandchildren: William (Samantha) Welch, Milwaukee, WI; Melissa Welch, Gainesville, FL; Michael II (Youko) Welch, Santee, CA; Thad Lee, Alma, CO; Jessica Lee (Brady Bornhauser), Onalaska, WI; great-grandson Luka Bornhauser, Onalaska, WI; Sister-in-law Mercedes Welch and the Welch family and Funke family nieces and nephews.
Bill was preceded in death by his wife Mary; brother, Donald Welch; nephews Timothy and Terrance Welch and Funke family sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law.
Bill’s family would like to send a special thank you to his Comfort Keepers caregivers, his Mayo Health Systems physicians and the Mayo Hospice team.
A private Mass of Christian Burial will be live streamed from St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral La Crosse, WI, at 10:30 a.m. on Monday January 11, 2021, with a private visitation at 10:00 a.m. until the time of service. Burial will follow the service.
The service may be live streamed at: https://youtu.be/RSkBgWGV4HY or on the Cathedral web site and will be available on demand at the same link.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be designated to; St Joseph the Workman Cathedral, Aquinas Catholic Schools or the Western Technical College Foundation.