Cover photo for Richard "Dick" H. Welch's Obituary
Richard "Dick" H. Welch Profile Photo
1927 Richard 2021

Richard "Dick" H. Welch

March 4, 1927 — August 11, 2021

When inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame in February 2019 for his business achievements and decades of service to the citizens of San Benito, Dick Welch told a reporter, “San Benito has been very good to me, both citizen-wise and business-wise. I tried to give back for what everybody had given me.”

When honored by Lions Club International for 65 years of continuous service — raising scholarship money, helping kids attend summer camp, and much more — San Benito Lions Club member Rosa G. Garcia remarked, “Mr. Welch is just an icon. He’s really a role model and our mentor.”

Richard Henry Welch — who just about everybody knew as Dick — died peacefully in his sleep on August 11, 2021, at the age of 94.

Dick Welch was a true San Benito pioneer. Drawn to the Valley’s rich agricultural land, his grandparents arrived in San Benito by train on Christmas Eve 1908, when his father Jesse was just eight years old.

As a young boy, Dick rode his horse, Boots, along the banks of the Resaca irrigation system being developed by Col. Sam Robertson, to whom he sold magazine subscriptions for extra spending money. It would be the start of Dick’s long and successful business career.

As a young man, Dick was an active Boy Scout; enjoyed Camp Perry at Rio Hondo; and earned the rank of Eagle Scout, a tradition he passed down to two more generations of Welches, with a third generation starting his Scouting journey this fall. The lessons he learned as a Scout – commitment to community and family – permeated throughout the rest of his life.

As a junior at San Benito High School, Dick was a scrapping 145-pound starter on the 1942 San Benito Greyhound championship football team.  A year later, he served as team captain and played with a broken foot that bugged him the rest of his life. A proud Greyhound his entire life, Dick held season football tickets for more than 60 years, and friends claimed, “When anything happened to Welch, he bled purple.”

After graduating from San Benito High School – where he served as president of both the Senior Class and the Student Council - Dick attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, where he met his future wife, Marianne Barcus, from Goose Creek, Texas. (He always contended that she “courted” him.)

Following service in the U.S. Army, Dick earned a business degree from what is now the University of North Texas in Denton and took post-graduate courses at Baylor University.

He and Marianne married in 1949, then settled in San Benito, where they raised two children and engaged in a lifetime of community service. They were married for 69 years, until Marianne passed away in 2018.

The impressive, but non-exhaustive, list of civic organizations Dick served also included: San Benito School Board (President); San Benito Chamber of Commerce (President); San Benito Housing Authority; San Benito Industrial Foundation; San Benito Charter Revision Committee; San Benito Planning & Zoning Board; and more. More often than not, he was called upon to “keep the books,” as his sharp intellect and calculator-brain was a treasured asset.

The service didn’t stop there, as Dick also supported the local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Dolly Vinsant Hospital and its subsequent scholarship foundation, and just about every board or program at the First United Methodist Church (except choir - singing was not Dick’s forte).

Dick especially enjoyed working alongside Marianne at the San Benito Historical Society.  One of their last gifts they gave the citizens of San Benito was a life-size bust of Col. Sam Robertson that is on display outside the San Benito History Museums and the city’s Cultural Arts Center.

In addition to his extensive civic involvement, Dick also had a long and successful business career.

In the early 1950s, Dick assumed management of Welch Chevrolet, which his father, Jesse, established in 1923. It was the sixth oldest car dealership in Texas when he sold it to Jeff Kellogg in 1982.

What was intended to be a 90-day transition turned into a 25-year business partnership, where the duo purchased and operated other dealerships throughout the Valley until they sold them in 2008.

For Dick, it wasn’t just about selling cars and trucks. He once remarked, “I loved the association, not only with the employees, but with the customers as well.”

More important than their business success, Dick and Jeff’s comradery - and occasional shenanigans – led to a lifelong and second-to-none friendship.

While Dick immersed himself in work and civic life, it certainly didn’t come at the expense of time with his family. He and Marianne enjoyed traveling, both domestic and abroad. He never missed Andy’s piano recitals or Luanne’s dance programs.

He supported their scouting endeavors, and always made sure that the Y-Teen and Key Club floats were welded together correctly for the homecoming parade. Miss San Benito always had a shiny new car in which to ride down Sam Houston Boulevard for the annual Christmas parade. Dick was also known to serve as a “bouncer” at the old pavilion on South Padre Island when the teenage rock-and-roll band in which Andy played would hold a summer dance.

Never limited to his children’s activities, Dick and Marianne often made treks to Houston, San Antonio, Georgetown and beyond for grandkids’ and even great-grandkids’ activities.

Preceding Dick in death is his beloved wife, Marianne; his father Jesse and wife Ona Welch; his mother Patsy Gardner Welch; his brother Jesse Welch; his sister and brother-in-law Mary and Bill Saxon; and his adopted daughter Doris Ronbloom.

He is survived by his son Andy (Lisa) Welch of Georgetown and his daughter Luanne (Tommy) Ballenger of San Benito. Notably, a Welch family member has maintained continuous residency in San Benito for 113 years.

He is also survived by granddaughter Alison (Ryan) Salinas of Houston; and grandsons Creighton (Lindsey) Welch of Houston and Cody (Genevieve) Welch of San Antonio.

His great-grandchildren are Emma and Ellie Salinas of Houston and Henry and Hudson Welch of Houston.

The family would like to invite those who knew Dick to a visitation at the Buck Ashcraft San Benito Funeral Home on Sunday, August 15, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Per his wishes, a graveside burial service for immediate family members will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, Dick requested that memorial contributions be made to the First United Methodist Church of San Benito; Sunny Glen Children’s Home of San Benito; the San Benito Lions Club; the San Benito Historical Society; or the charity of one’s choice.

For his entire life, Dick Welch devoted his time and energy to the people of San Benito and his family.  And, it all started with those rides with Boots along the banks of the Resaca.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Richard "Dick" H. Welch, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Sunday, August 15, 2021

4:00 - 6:00 pm (Central time)

Buck Ashcraft San Benito Funeral Home

1400 West Business 77, San Benito, TX 78586

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Private Committal

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