Michael R. Welch, age 70 of Chipley, Florida met his Lord and Savior face to face on March 13, 2019. He peacefully left this world with his family by his bedside.
Mike was born November 18, 1948 in Dothan, Alabama to Ted and Mathol Welch. A lifelong resident of the Florida panhandle, he grew up in Panama City and graduated from Bay High School in 1966. He attended Gulf Coast Junior College and the University of West Florida before eventually earning a Master of Science degree. His entire professional life was dedicated to serving the public school system as a teacher and assistant principal at Vernon High School, Business Manager at the Washington-Holmes Technical Center in Chipley and was honored to end his 37 year career as the Deputy Superintendent for the Washington County School District.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Mike is survived by his adoring wife of 48 years, Gwen Welch of Chipley, Florida; two sons: Chris Welch and wife Wendy of Chipley, Florida, Greg Welch of San Diego, California; brother: Tommy Welch and wife Peggy of Panama City, Florida; granddaughters: Keegan and Karley Welch, numerous brothers and sisters in law, nieces, nephews, loved ones, and golfing buddies.
In his early years, Mike excelled in sports, particularly baseball. These skills carried over into young adulthood as he transitioned into softball. He enjoyed many years of dragging his faithful wife from town to town as he played in both slow and fast-pitch tournaments. He was well-known for his scrappy defensive play and was at the top of the list anytime an area team needed an extra player. By the time his first child arrived he realized, partly due to Gwen’s gentle persuasion, that maybe he should find a sport that kept him closer to home. He happened to come across a set of golf clubs and soon after his next sporting obsession was born. He had the well-intended thought that golf was something he and Gwen could do together. After a few rounds, a reminder of Gwen’s disposition when aggravated and the realization that while playing together she had immediate access to a bag of metal clubs, he decided maybe it was better for their marriage…..and his life, that he not push her to share his love of the game. He made lifelong friends on the golf course and loved meeting with them several times a week as they chased a little white ball around the course as they no doubt solved some of the world’s most pressing problems along the way.
He loved all things sports and had an uncanny ability to retain biographical information on various pro athletes. His personal library consisted of Sports Illustrated, Golf Magazine and the daily paper, which for him the sports section should have been the front page because that is what he turned to first.
As a father, he made it a point to support his children in whatever activities they were into at the time. He was a coach, a fan, a chauffeur, a wrestling partner, a teacher, a play date, a listener, an encourager, an advisor and when needed…..an enforcer. He wasn’t just a father…..he was their dad.
As a grandfather, he employed the same skills as he did as a father…with a whole lot more spoiling. He was his granddaughters’ biggest fan and if they had a school event, ballgame, birthday or needed a swimming partner or ice cream buddy, he was there. No matter what, he was there, not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He loved them as his own and he wasn’t just their grandfather…..he was their Papa Mike.
As a husband, more than anything he was an example for his sons. Slow to speak…..quick to listen and treated each adversity common to everyday life with a contagious calm which couldn’t be ignored. He was his wife’s best friend, her companion, provider, her rock. He wasn’t just her husband…..he was the love of her life.
He loved living and fought cancer until the point where he simply had no more fight left. He loved Jesus and without a doubt knew when his fight was over he would immediately join Him in Heaven. His quick wit and playful aggravation made him who he was. He touched many lives and will be missed terribly.
The funeral service will be held 3 P.M. Sunday, March 17, 2019 at Shiloh Baptist Church in Chipley, Florida with Rev. Tim Patton officiating. Interment will immediately follow at Shiloh Baptist Church with Obert Funeral Home of Chipley, Florida directing.
The family will receive friends for visitation 1:30 – 3:00 P.M. Sunday, March 17, 2019 at Shiloh Baptist Church.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to Emerald Coast Hospice, 1330 South Boulevard, Chipley, Florida 32428, who were absolutely wonderful in providing much needed care and support in his final days.