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1946 John Nelson Welch 2023

John Nelson Welch

September 23, 1946 — November 13, 2023

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John Nelson was born to Martin Lionel and Mary Gladys Welch in Port Arthur, Texas in 1946.  His youth was spent working on his father’s rice farm, alongside his four brothers.

In 1966, at 19 years old, John Nelson met his bride at Tucker’s Drive-In where she worked as a car hop.  Upon seeing her for the first time, he told her she was beautiful and that he loved her.  Six months later, in July 1966, they were married.  They’ve continued to love each other for 57 years.

John Nelson voluntarily joined the Air Force 6 months after marrying, unaware his and Sandra’s first child – Richard – was on the way.  Richard would arrive in September of 1967.

John Nelson served dutifully as a radio operator in the Vietnam War.  While in Vietnam, he was the recipient of multiple medals, decorations and commendations.  John Nelson was honorably discharged from the Air Force in January, 1970.

In 1972, John Nelson and Sandra had their second child, Tonya.  During this time, John was working at various plants and refineries in Southeast Texas.

In 1981, John Nelson sought a better life and started his career with Waters Corporation, a high-tech laboratory equipment company.  Here he would work as a sales and executive service engineer for 32 years.

John Nelson was a raging Cajun, and was the cook for his family, including extended family during holiday gatherings.  He really enjoyed being the chef and beamed when his family raved over his dishes. He was most famous for his amazing gumbo, but every meal he cooked was something to drool over. 

Beyond being a phenomenal cook, John Nelson’s favorite pastime was travel.  When his family was young, he took them on road-trip vacations to the western states to see mountains and canyons.  In Winter, he would take them north until he found good snow, then he’d find a place for the family to stay for a week to play in the snow.  After his children became adults, John Nelson and Sandra continued to travel extensively, seeking beauty in the country that he loved.  After retirement, most of their travels were to casinos where John Nelson and his wife loved to play slot machines.

John Nelson also had an incredible gift for painting and spent much of his time in his studio applying his creative, and somewhat eccentric talent to canvas.  He won many awards with paintings he entered in local art competitions.

John Nelson’s greatest joy was his family, especially the children.  He regressed to being a child himself when children were around, often playing with them while wearing a clown nose and regaling them with stories of horse meat and barking spiders.  He enjoyed his grandchildren every chance he got.

John is preceded in death by his father, Martin Lionel Welch; mother, Mary Gladys Welch; brothers, Lionel Royce Welch and James Allen Welch. He is survived by his wife, Sandra Gayle Welch; son, Richard Earl Welch; daughter, Tonya Sheri Welch; brothers, Charles Daniel Welch and Anthony Lawrence Welch. John is further survived by 4 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews, to whom John fed “horse” at every meal.

There will be a Celebration of Life at which John Nelson will receive full veteran honors.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Jude’s Children Hospital or a reputable veteran’s charity of your choice.  Or, as John Nelson would say: “Send Money”.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Nelson Welch, please visit our flower store.

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