William Claude Welch, Jr passed away peacefully in his sleep Friday, May 13, 2022, at home. Dr Welch was 86 years old. He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on October 30, 1935, the son of William Claude Welch, Sr and Lillian Ruth Tully Welch, both of whom preceded him in death. He was also preceded by daughter, Julie Patricia Welch, and son, David Nelson Welch, and three siblings, Dorothy Parmer, Betty Faye Saxon, and Patricia Lawson. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Patricia Bray Welch, two sons: William C. Welch III of San Francisco and Charles Christopher Welch of Brandon; two grandchildren: Benjamin Walton Welch of Los Angeles and Madelaine Bray Welch of Denmark, Maine; a brother, David (Charlotte) of Tupelo; daughter-in-law, Dr Suzanne Dater of Denmark, Maine; two special nieces: Beverly Price of Houston, MS and Pam Short (Roger) of Columbus, MS as well as cousins, nieces and nephews, and three tubas.
The son of a warehouse supervisor and an intellectually gifted mother, Dr Welch was educated in the public schools of Tupelo. He is a graduate of Itawamba Jr College where he was President of the student body. He initially studied to be a band director, but revisited this decision after briefly directing a 7th grade band. Instead, he continued to Ole Miss to study pre-med (doubling up coursework as he had no science credits), and from there to the University Medical School, attaining his M.D. in 1961.
Early in his career he was County Health Officer for Oktibbeha, Clay and Choctaw counties, Assistant Director of Student Health Services at Mississippi State University, and Team Physician for the Bulldogs. He also served for 19 years in the Mississippi National Guard and United States Army Reserve, discharged as a Captain. He maintained a family medicine practice for 12 years.
Dr Welch then returned to the University Medical Center in Jackson for a residency in psychiatry, serving as Chief Resident during his third year. He served three years as Staff Psychiatrist and then Clinical Director at Mississippi State Hospital.
He maintained a private practice in Jackson for 22 years. He opened the Senior Care Unit in Rankin General Hospital and was its first Director. He also served as Medical Director of Hinds Behavioral Health Services until retirement in 2022. He was much loved by his patients, some of whom he had seen for over 30 years.
Dr Welch was past president of Mississippi Psychiatric Association, having served as Secretary and President elect. He had served as Chief of Psychiatry section, St Dominic Hospital; President of Charter Medical Staff; was Consulting Psychiatrist for Mental Health Centers in Simpson and Lafayette Counties; for Mississippi State Penitentiary and for Disability Determination Services for the State of Mississippi.
He was a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He was also a member of the American Medical Association, Mississippi Psychiatric Association, and a charter member of Prairie Medical Society (MSMA), serving as secretary.
Dr Welch’s passion was music. He played with Elvis as a boy growing up in Lee County, double bass with the university symphony and a bluegrass band in middle age, and tuba with community bands and orchestras later in life. For many years he was tenor soloist in his church. He was a member of the chorus of the Mississippi Opera for 20 years. Another activity from which he derived much pleasure was singing as Santa Claus for various groups’ Christmas parties.
Dr Welch was truly a renaissance man, a life long learner and a lover of wonderful food, music, literature, movies, science, and culture. It was his personality that made him special. He will be greatly missed by those fortunate enough to know him. If ever there was a jolly ole soul, it was Bill Welch.
Funeral services are May 18, 11am, at Ott and Lee in Brandon MS, with visitation at 10am.