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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Welch, Donald C., USAF
May 27, 1933 – July 8, 2019
Donald C. Welch of Knippa, Texas, left this world on July 8, 2019. He was born May 27, 1933 in Marion, Ohio, to Frank McKinley Welch and Frances Helen Rhoads Welch.
He graduated from Marion Harding High School in Marion in 1951. While in high school he worked at Marion Power Shovel as part of a work study program. He continued to work there after graduation until he joined the United States Air Force in the fall of 1952.
During his service, including service in the Korean War, he served as search and rescue with helicopters including on the South China Sea where he was part of a team that rescued downed pilots. He also was trained and served as a helicopter mechanic. His last assignment was on Gary Air Force Base in San Marcos, Texas.
It was while he was stationed in San Marcos that he met his future wife, Alva Jean Dornbusch, who was attending college at Southwest Texas State College. They were married in Emmanuel Lutheran Church in her hometown of Knippa, Texas on January 21, 1956. They lived in San Marcos until he completed his four years of service, then returned to his hometown of Marion, Ohio, where he resumed his job at Marion Power Shovel which was being held for him as a war veteran.
It was there that he and Jean welcomed their first daughter, Donna. When he decided to further his education using the GI Bill, he moved back to Texas in 1957 with his wife and daughter. Upon arrival, for the remainder of the summer he worked with his father-in-law, Alvin Dornbusch, doing commercial crop harvesting. In the fall, because he needed to have been a Texas resident for a year to qualify for in-state tuition, he worked as an airplane mechanic at the Air Force Training base in Hondo, Texas. In the fall of 1958, he enrolled at Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde, then at Southwest Texas State College, where he completed his degree in Industrial Arts and received his teaching certification. He also welcomed daughter number two, Kathy.
He taught one year in Ganado, Texas, then moved to Austin where he taught Industrial Cooperative Training and Industrial Arts for 29 years at Travis and Austin High Schools. He and Jean completed their family with the arrival of daughters Laura and Elizabeth while in Austin. As with many teachers, he held many summer jobs. One was as a bus driver with the Kerrville Bus Company where he had many interesting assignments including transporting presidential entourages when Lyndon B. Johnson was president from Austin to the LBJ Ranch. Another summer job was for Vonn Supply where he installed windows, overhead doors and other fixtures in commercial buildings and schools.
His kindness and generosity led him to volunteer work. He served as a reserve deputy for the Travis County Sheriff’s office and the Bastrop County Sheriff’s office. He also served as a reserve officer with the Austin Police Department and the Westlake Hills Police Department. His volunteer work as a certified law enforcement officer and crime prevention officer led to a full-time position when he retired from teaching. He served as a full-time police officer as well as crime prevention officer for the Westlake Hills police department. During this time, he was chosen to serve on a state-wide committee on crime prevention, which resulted in a national award in Crime Prevention for the State of Texas during the time George Bush was Governor.
This was not the only award that he received during his storied career, which includes having risked his life to rescue a gas line worker who was injured at St Edwards when a gas line ruptured and threated the entire neighborhood.
Despite his busy career, Don was a devout member of his church, wherever he lived. As a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Austin, he served on the church council, as well as on the building committee when a new church building was erected. After retiring to Knippa, Texas, he became a member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church. He was active in church events, including the annual chicken supper.
Don is survived by his wife, Alva Jean Dornbusch Welch, daughters: Donna Jean Harrell and James Harrell, Sr. of Fredericksburg, Texas; Kathryn Frances DeKneef and Dennis DeKneef of Uvalde, Texas; Laura Lynn Foradory and Craig Scott of Uvalde, Tx; and Elizabeth Margaret Stephens and Eric Stephens of Dover, Delaware. He is also survived by one brother, Frank Joseph Welch and Bertha of Marion Ohio; fourteen grandchildren, and numerous great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Frances Welch; brothers James F. Welch, Thomas M. Welch, Edward C. Welch, and Keith A. Welch.
The family will receive guests for viewing at Rushing, Estes, Knowles Funeral Home in Uvalde, TX on Thursday evening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Funeral services will be held at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Knippa, Texas, at 10:00 AM on Friday, July 12, with burial to follow in Knippa Cemetery.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Dornbusch Scholarship fund at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 250 S. FM 1049, Knippa Tx, 78870; Hospice Uvalde at Uvalde Memorial Hospital, 1038 Garner Field Rd., Uvalde, Tx, 78801; or to a charity of your choosing.
Published by Austin American-Statesman on Jul. 11, 2019.
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