Reverend Bob Welsh
- December 5, 2023
Reverend Bob Welsh
Reverend Bob Welsh, of Iowa City, passed away peacefully at home Dec. 1, 2023, surrounded by his family.
Bob was born Oct. 5, 1926, in Greensburg, Ind., the son of Rev. James H. Welsh and Pauline (Gumerson) Welsh. Bob grew up in Anderson, Ind., and Milwaukee, Wis. After high school he attended Philips University in Enid, Okla., and Carroll College in Waukesha, Wis. From there he attended the Disciples Divinity House at University of Chicago.
Bob began his ministerial career in Oklahoma City followed by stops in Indianapolis, Houston and Des Moines. Bob and his family moved to Iowa City in 1965 to serve as Minister of First Christian Church, where he served until his retirement in 1992.
Beyond his ministry work Bob was a leader of the Ecumenical movement. He served as Chair of the Council of Churches, the Ministerial Association and later the Ecumenical Consultation. He has been a life-long advocate of providing support to help all people within our community thrive. Rev. Welsh served as Chair of Iowa City’s first housing commission and was responsible for writing the original plan for Section 8 housing. That plan led to the ability to build Ecumenical Towers in downtown Iowa City that serves older adults to this day.
Bob was the founder of the Volunteer Service Bureau, the Common Fund, and the Ecumenical Housing Corporation. He served on two state work groups that deal with welfare reform and the Governor’s Childcare and Early Education Task Force. Bob was also invited to serve on the White House Conference on Aging. For over 20 years, he served as a leader of the Johnson County Nutrition Program that provided thousands of congregate and home-delivered meals to seniors. He served as Chair of the Johnson County Task Force on Aging, and chaired the Budget, Program and Planning Committee of the Heritage Area Agency on Aging. Bob was a strong advocate for persons with disabilities, serving as Secretary of the SEATS Advisory Committee. He also served as a Chaplain for the Iowa City Fire Department.
Throughout Bob’s decades long community advocacy work, he was selected as the recipient of many awards for his service. These include the “Senior of Distinction” in Iowa in 2001, the “Golden Rule Award” for his outstanding volunteer service, the “Heritage Visionary Award” by the Heritage Agency, the AARP “Andrus for Community Service,” the “Isabel Turner Award for Outstanding Contributions to Human Rights” with the City of Iowa City Human Rights Commission, the “Betty Grandquist Lifetime Achievement Award in Service to Older Iowans” and the “Advocate of the Year” by the Heritage Agency.
In 2016, they dedicated the “Bob Welsh Community Room” in his name at the Iowa City Senior Center. In 2019, he was recognized by The Johnson County Board of Supervisors with the “Bob Welsh Appreciation Day” for his decades of service to, and his dedication and love for the Johnson County community.
Quite frankly, this represents a small collection of highlights from Bob’s lifetime body of work, as he cared deeply about many causes, and committed himself to “making a difference” until he could no longer. Bob was very proud to serve with so many outstanding Johnson County residents who equally cared about making a difference in the lives of many in our community and throughout the State of Iowa. We’d be negligent not to mention two additional items. Bob was a huge supporter of Iowa Athletics and the Arts, with a very special affinity for Iowa Women’s basketball.
Bob had a deep love for his family. His adoration and undying love for his wife Eunice Welsh was apparent to all who knew him. Eunice and Bob celebrated their 31st anniversary on March 7, 2023.
Bob is survived by his wife Eunice. He is also survived by his oldest son, Mark Welsh (Nancy), and his granddaughter Sarah Welsh Nelson, all of Iowa City. Also, stepdaughter Becky Scherschell of Irving Texas, his stepson Warren Hanlin (Bonnie) of West Branch and two stepgrandchildren, Ryan Scherschell of Dallas and Darby Jones (Brad) of Seattle. Bob and Eunice also have five great-grandchildren, Emma Nelson, Aidan Nelson, Sawyer Miller, Riley Miller and Phoebe Miller, all of Iowa City, and one great-great-grandchild, Kai Nelson.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made in Bob’s honor to CommUnity Crisis Services, 1121 S. Gilbert Court, Iowa City, IA 52240 or at www.builtbycommunity.org where Bob’s Granddaughter, Sarah, currently serves as CEO.
A service and Celebration of Life will be held Jan. 6, 2024, at 1 p.m. at the First Christian Church, 900 Lincolnshire Place, Coralville, Iowa. To share a thought, memory or condolence please visit Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service website at www.gayandciha.com.
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