John Welch, Sr.

Obituary of John Welch, Sr.

Lt. Col. John Franklin Welch, Sr., devoted husband, father of four and a proud Air Force veteran, died Friday, Oct. 20 at Memorial Hospital. He was 86 years old.


John was born July 22, 1931 in Springfield, Mo. to Hugh David Welch and Anna Rachel (Means) Welch. John graduated from Cameron High School in 1949.  After graduation, John began college to earn a degree in Education. College would be put on hold, however, after John was recruited by the U.S. Air Force to become a fighter pilot.


After completing Air Force cadet school, John married Doris Jean Weller on Feb. 13, 1955. What would follow would be a 59-year marriage filled with lots of traveling, children and dedication to one another. John took his marriage vows very seriously—especially the “in sickness and in health” portion. During her 10-year battle with cancer, John was a meticulous caregiver for Doris. Even after her death in 2015, John continued to buy fresh flowers for his wife. 


John’s military career would be a defining aspect of his life. He served as a tactical fighter pilot U.S. Air Force and completed more than one hundred missions in North Vietnam. John received a National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, a Distinguished Flying Cross and countless other awards and recognitions. His career in the military allowed him to live in numerous locations with his family, including Alabama, Texas, the Philippines, Nebraska, Florida, Montana, California, Missouri and Alaska. During his career in the Air Force John also finished his Bachelor of General Education degree from the University of Omaha in 1965.


After retiring from the Air Force in 1977, John flew for Hulcher Services for nine years before joining the team at Smoky Jennings Chevrolet as a fleet sales consultant in 1986.  Even after retiring from Smoky Jennings in 2010, John was always busy—whether it was walking at the golf course, visiting family or buying way more groceries than he actually needed. He was also known to be passionate about politics and killed countless trees printing out articles to share with friends and family.


John was preceded in death by: his father, Hugh David Welch, Sr.; mother, Anna Rachel (Means) Welch; brother, Hugh David Welch, Jr.; sister, Anna Rachel Bell; and wife, Doris Jean Welch. He is survived by his daughter, Debra Welch of Martinsville, Ill.; son, John Welch, Jr. and his wife, Beth Welch of Palmyra, Ill.; son, David Welch of Branson, Mo.; daughter, Denise Scott and her husband, Randy Scott of Jacksonville, Ill.; 13 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and a beloved Golden Retriever named Sam.


Memorial services will be held 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 25 at Stults-Neece Chapel in Palmyra. The visitation will be held from 9-10 a.m. Saturday at the chapel. Burial with military honors will take place at Union Chapel Cemetery, Hays Road, Girard, Ill. 62640. Donations in memory of John may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project c/o Stults-Neece Funeral Home, 201 North Main Street, Palmyra, Ill. 62674.