On September 21, 2011, after a sudden, brief illness, Ed V. Welch, Sr. passed away. Ed was more than our Chairman Emeritus. He was our hero. Rare indeed, it is in life when we come across heroes – those individuals who sacrifice for others, who reach out to others, who selflessly motivate others, inspire others, nurture others. Ed Welch, Sr. was that kind of individual. Known among his friends as “brother,” Ed was born on January 21, 1933. Lifelong friends will attest to Ed’s leadership qualities even from an early age. His ability to capture the trust and friendship of all who came in contact with him was a gift.
Ed Welch was a 1955 graduate of the University of Alabama where he was an outstanding baseball player. Upon his graduation, he served a tour of duty in the United States Air Force. Ed had an extensive business career. He served as President of Ring Around Products until 1971, at which time the company went public, and he was elected President and Chief Executive Officer. Ring Around Products was acquired by Occidental Petroleum in 1979, and he remained as President and Chief Executive Officer. He traveled extensively throughout the world, both individually and with Occidental Petroleum Chairman, Dr. Armand Hammer, meeting with the highest government officials in many European and Latin American countries, in Egypt, and the Soviet Union. He made repeated visits to the People’s Republic of China where he was instrumental in bringing a hybrid rice seed developed by the Chinese to the U.S. and negotiated one of the first contracts between the two countries. After leaving Occidental Petroleum in 1982, he became President of Colonial BancGroup, Inc. His primary responsibility with BancGroup was growth through acquisition. During the last chapter of Ed’s career, he was involved in several family businesses including co-founding The Waters, a Traditional Neighborhood Design development, and of course our firm, Welch Hornsby.
Ed was a very visible and active community servant, leading capital campaigns and serving on numerous boards across the city including the Montgomery YMCA, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and Faulkner University as well as serving for more than 30 years as an elder at GracePointe Church. But it is what he did discreetly and without fanfare for us and hundreds of others that inspires us most. Perhaps it was a stern lecture, a needed word of encouragement, or a few dollars to help someone through a difficult time, it was done his way, quietly.
Ed V. Welch, Sr. loved life. He loved business, he loved sports, and he loved his friends. Ed was a great man of faith. He loved his late bride Jean and his family. He was passionately devoted to all. Ed was indeed more than our Chairman Emeritus. He was our mentor. He was our friend. He was a constant reminder of what a good man looks like. He will forever be missed. He challenged us to be our best, in business and in life.
Ed V. Welch, Sr. was truly a man of uncompromising commitment. He will forever be our hero.