Dear readers I hope you will indulge me as I remember my father one last time. My brother-in-law, Richard Davisson, gave the eulogy at my father’s memorial service and it was the best one anyone ever could have given for him. With permission I am printing the eulogy here.
In Memory of my Father-in-law
Charles Samuel “Chuckie” Welch
by Richard Davisson
Thank you all for coming to celebrate the life of Charles Samuel Welch. My name is Richard Davisson and I am have been married to Colleen for more than 30 years which means we only have about a quarter century to go to match Chuck and Claire’s marriage.
I was asked to share a few words but I need to establish a few ground rules first. I will be reading from my notes to keep from blubbering which is a trait I share with my father-in-law.
I will keep this mostly irreverent because Chuckie loved to laugh and it also helps to keep me from blubbering. So in keeping with this I need to tell you all this right now, I’m not wearing my good suit because our cats peed on it. Chuckie would love knowing that.
Colleen & Rich Davisson
Finally I will keep this brief and will be leaving lots out because that’s all Chuck would tolerate. If I dare ramble on too long we all know what Chuckie would say: “That’s the stupidest damn eulogy I’ve ever heard!”
So with that in mind, I would like to take us back to 1982. Mr. Welch I said– “Call me Chuck”, ah, yes sir – “call me Chuck”, ah okay… “ I love your wife… I mean your daughter, and I would like to ask for her hand in marriage.” Through his wire frame glasses and without pausing to consider my question he immediately answered, “Why are you asking me?” I don’t honestly remember anything more of the conversation but years later I came to realize that what he meant was “Son, I love my daughter and I trust her judgment. So you need to be talking to her. For my part, if you promise to love and respect her, care for her, protect her and provide for her then you have my blessing”.
Years later my business was tanking. I was gasping for air and looking for wisdom. After listening to me drone on for much too long Chuck finally looked at me and said “You’ll figure it out. What channel is the golf tournament on?” A few years later as I had figured it out and got the business back on track I realized what he meant: “You’ll figure it out. What channel is the LPGA tournament on?”
That was Chuckie. He was a man of many words when talk was cheap, few when they were important.
Chuck loved this church. The golden years for him being when his friend Bill Pegg led this congregation. Church member Bill L. told me a story last night about a time they were ushering when two elderly ladies broke into a heated argument over who had the right to sit in a certain pew. Chuck interceded and the result: They both turned on him and stormed out of the church! Chuck stood there, mouth agape until Bill came over and told him to find Claire and get a hug.
The Final Roll Call poem and Flag Blanket
Chuck loved his country. When he was moved to hospice Monday the staff at St. Anne’s saw that he had been a veteran. They presented him with a beautiful poem thanking him for his service and an American flag blanket. A few hours before he passed he rallied, woke from his sleep and the nurse had a chance to share this with him. Satisfied, he fell back to sleep knowing that we all appreciate his duty to country and his sacrifice for our freedom.
Chuck lands on his solo flight in 1989
Chuck was a man of mystery. Who knew that he would love both grocery stores and hot air balloons? How do they even go together?
There was a dark side to Chuck – he had enemies to be sure. And of course I’m talking about his arch rivals: the sycamore trees in his yard. That battle raged on long before I knew him. “Twigs and roots. Those are the dirtiest damn trees!”. That was the battle cry that I would hear every spring. I think he secretly loved winter because it covered the roots that were popping up in his lawn.
Chuck loved to use his snowblower
Chuck loved his friends. He also loved winter because he got to run the snow blower. I’m sure his first love was Claire and the kids, his second was golf and his third was running his snow blower up and down Belmeade. There is something special about the care and camaraderie up and down Belmeade and I suspect that Chuckie (and Claire) had a whole lot to do with this. I’m sure Chuck would wish that this tradition continue.
Chuckie had a unique twist with the pronunciation of some words in tradition of Norm Crosby for those of us old enough to know that reference. These were known as “Chuckisms” and it was great sport to try to inspire him. Paul was telling me about the time Chuck was explaining that one of the kids had been diagnosed with ADD. “Paul”, he said, “the doctors say he’s got DNA!”
Chuck loved sports and was loyal to his teams. But I think he chose his teams based on their ability to beat Syracuse and Notre Dame. And that was the real sport in his life: Finding someone who he thought should love SU or ND and rubbing their nose in a loss. It didn’t really matter to Chuck if they actually cared about those teams – he just loved a good argument.
Chuck & Claire on vacation
Chuck loved to travel. When Chuck and Claire retired we were all concerned that they would have nothing to do. Wow were we off base!
In addition to being a volunteer driver for the red cross, he helped out with many church functions here, was the assistant play by play for the high school , he and Jeff were ardent lacrosse fans, Chuck and Claire made regular pilgrimages to Detroit and Connecticut and Florida and Arizona and traveled extensively. We always had to schedule our family visits well ahead of time to be able to squeeze in between elder hostels.
I feel I’ve visited most of the globe vicariously through his verbal and pictorial travelogue – the pictures of exotic locations and the detailed descriptions of perfect strangers that they met and befriended. Everyone had a story – EVERYONE… But if we were less than interested in the details, his enthusiasm was infectious none-the-less. He really loved people and went out of his way to get to know them.
There were no strangers in Chuck’s world just friends he had yet to meet.
Chuck touched so many lives in so many ways. You may have noticed one of the bouquets were from his favorite bagel shop near their house. Every day for the last forty years he would get up, go to the bagel store and order one bagel. I’m not sure he liked bagels all that much but I’m sure he loved to kibitz with the folks there. When we were cleaning up last night after the visitation we noticed a small brown bag on the counter by the flowers. In it – one plain bagel.
Chuck & the Davisson Grandkids
Chuck loved his family. He called me “Dickie”. Nobody calls me “Dickie”! I called him Chuckie or Grandpa but I really knew him as “Dad” because he certainly was to me. He was so proud of his grandkids. He hated hockey but loved to come to see my kids play. I don’t think he ever forgave me for me hating golf but I was redeemed to some degree when I gave him a grandson that played. Colleen and I gave him blondes, Paul and Lisa gave him brunettes, Cindy and Charlie gave him dogs and he loved them all equally.
He was Facebook before there was such a thing. We would hear about Charlie’s workshop, Cindy’s latest quilts, and Paul’s love of St. John’s. He would go into great detail about Lisa’s latest job. Of course he had absolutely no idea what it was she was actually doing but “you know Lisa, it has to be important”.
Chuck was virtuous. Patience is a virtue we are told. But of all the virtues that Chuck possessed this wasn’t on the bottom of the list, it never made the list. For those of us who knew him, loved him, where touched by him, to heck with patience. Chuckie made haste a virtue.
He lived in the now. And that kept us all hopping. We were all shocked to find out that Chuckie passed so quickly but when you stop and think of it, isn’t that EXACTLY Charles Samuel Welch!
Thank you Rich for the perfect description of my dad Chuck Welch.
Below is a slide show that ran at the visitation and after the memorial service. It chronicles my dad’s life from his first year to his last. In the early photos the other boy he is often pictured with is his brother Ronald who died many years ago.
If you can’t see the video or want a larger view you can go here to watch the video.
Thank you again for all your love and support during this time for myself and my family.
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