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To some Big Spring area residents the names Warren Welch or the Sara and Warren Welch Foundation do not ring a bell. They should.

School bells, in fact. More specifically, the tower bells on college campuses, campanile chimes on university walks. The sole purpose of the Sara and Warren Welch Foundation is to assist, through loans, Big Spring High School graduates in going to college. What's more, it's been a success.

It all started through the generosity of H. Warren Welch of Newville. Mr. Welch, who died June 22, 1978, willed that part of his estate be used to provide assistance to Big Spring High School graduates to attend college through an organization to be known as the Sara and Warren Welch Foundation. He left, of course, a substantial sum for that purpose. His wife, Sara Dougherty Welch, preceded him in death. The will provided for a six-member board of directors, four of the six nominated in the will and providing for two to be elected by the four. Initial directors were Markwood C. Reid, Glenn L. Rebuck, Dorothy Marquart, and Wayne Wood. Elected additionally were E. Lee Oiler and Frank C. Egger. Current directors are: Mr. Reid, president; John W. Grane, vice-president; A. B. McCarter, secretary; Mr. Egger, treasurer; Dolores B. Lezzer, and Stephen F. Ginter.

Starting with loans to six area students in its first academic year of 1980-81, the foundation today has aided more than two hundred students in college careers since then. Scores of "thank you" letters have piled up from grateful students over the years. This year, twenty-seven students successfully applied for foundation loans.

The foundation is a non-profit corporation, and the board retains the services of an attorney and a certified public accountant (CPA) for advice on taxes, financial and legal matters. Hamilton C. Davis is solicitor.

The foundation completed its first year of operation on April 30, 1981. It had received and invested funds from the estate and disbursed loans to those qualifying for financial aid. Accountants make financial reports of the renewal fund that maintains equity through repayments annually to directors. Repayments provide funds for other deserving students. The loans are subject to interest charges upon completion of education, loan repayment starting within six months of completion of study. Maximum loans have ranged between $1,500 and $2,200 and applicants apply each year for renewals. Big Spring High School seniors and graduates can apply.

Deadline for application is now June 1st. Applications forms are available by writing to The Sara and Warren Welch Foundation, P.O. Box 125, Newville, PA 17241-0125 or by calling the Law Office of Hamilton C. Davis at 532-5713 and applications are at the high school guidance office.

So, who was Warren Welch?

He was a quiet, thoughtful resident of South High Street, Newville, who served thirty-two years as a Newville school director and almost certainly was aware of the relatively low percentage of area students going on to college and some of the modest family incomes in his lifetime. His will is a testament of his concern for area young people.

Henry Warren Welch was born and reared in Burnt Cabins, Fulton County, and was a graduate of Bliss Electric school, Washington D.C. He became best known, however, as a draftsman. Employed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in a special mapping division, he created a number of county and Newville maps. He was a draftsman for The Frog Switch and Manufacturing Company, Carlisle, for over forty-one years, retiring in 1971. He had also been employed by Domestic Pump Company of Shippensburg, C.H. Masland and Sons, Carlisle, and by Bethlehem Steel Corporation. He had also helped operate Wick and Welch Studebaker Agency at 6-8 Glebe Ave., Newville, and ran an advertising business.

Warren Welch married Sara J. Dougherty of Newville in 1914. The Dougherty family home at 69 South High St. was willed to the Newville Historical Society following the death of Mr. Welch at age eighty-seven. He had been a widower since 1958 and was buried in Prospect hill Cemetery near Newville. Active in the community, Mr. Welch was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Newville, served on the church council, and was a Sunday school teacher for sixty-two years. He was a charter member and former president of the Newville Lions Club and belonged to Big Spring Masonic Lodge No. 361, F&AM.

This article by John W. Grane, appeared in The Valley Times Star on Wed, August 9, 2000.

 

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Last modified: August 25, 2015

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