Pioneer Day Citizens Emeritus Nick and Joan Welch

Nick and Joan Welch have been named the citizens emeritus for the 2013 Cowley Pioneer Day celebration. Here is an edited version of the Pioneer Book article in their own words:

Joan Welch

I am the fourth of eight children born to Louis B. and Hazel T. Welch, joining this family on July 13, 1938. My older siblings are Alyce, Linda and Jay, and the younger children were Bobi Jo, Annette, Cynthia and Richard. I was born in the same log home where we were all raised with the exception of two years when our family moved to Provo. Dad worked on the construction of the Geneva Steel mill during those two years. We returned to Cowley in 1944.WelchCouple-CowleyDays046

I loved to go up to the new Rock Chapel being built on Main Street. Dad would let me sit on the running board of his car and watch the men haul wheelbarrows of concrete from the small portable mixer to the sturdy foundations of that beautiful chapel.

I attended grades one through 12 in Cowley. I remember the original grade school building just south of the log gym. We loved the outdoor circular slide from the upstairs rooms, the “whirlies,” swings and teeter totters. It was truly a house of learning for me.

I was involved in the many school functions offered to all the students of Cowley: competitive music festivals, speech, pep squad, business skills, cooking, sewing, FHA, FFA and shop. Some people question if you can learn as much in a small school as one with hundreds of children enrolled. It was a privilege to be educated in Cowley. My education included not only how to read, write and do arithmetic, but I was also taught love and understanding for others, taking responsibility for myself and the importance of extending myself to my neighbors, friends and family.

After graduating from Cowley High School in 1956 I attended college at MSU in Bozeman.

On Sept. 6, 1957, I married my sweetheart, Nick Welch, in the LDS Temple in Salt Lake City (I didn’t change my name, though). We lived in Montana the first years of marriage. I attended Billings Business College and after completing this course, I worked for Mulvaney Motor Company in Billings.

Our first daughter, Ann, was born in February 1959. At the end of February we moved to Great Falls. We moved back to Cowley in 1960 and rented Grandpa Frank Whitney’s home across from the city park. Our second daughter, Sidney, was born in July 1960. We then moved in 1961 to Cody, where Nick worked for the Big Horn Gypsum Company. We built a home on Meadow Lane. Our two sons, Guy and Tom, were born in Cody. We loved Cody, the mountains, lakes and rivers. We camped often and learned to love hunting and fishing.

While in Cody I directed children’s and women’s choirs and belonged to the Cody Music Club. I also adjudicated high school speech festivals and worked part-time in a medical office and an insurance office. We were both busy in church and city functions as well as parenting four children.

Moving to Las Vegas in 1970 was a big change, to say the least. But we attended church and immediately felt welcomed by new friends. Nick and I both sang at funerals, weddings on the Las Vegas Strip and many different churches. We have both been very active in music and drama presentations here. We are still enjoying performing (and living) together.

I have directed multiple choirs for over 40 years. One of my favorite experiences was directing the choir for the dedication of the Las Vegas Temple in 1989. What a wonderful blessing it was.

I began giving piano lessons when my last children went to school. I continued up until they finished their college years. I loved working with children and teaching them the joy of music. For me, music has always been magical.

We have a great family of three married children, 11 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Our son-in-law and both our sons along with our five oldest grandsons have served or are presently serving missions. Tom’s oldest daughter entered the MTC in May 2013 to prepare to serve in the Ukraine.

What a wonderful childhood we had. When people ask where we were raised, we proudly reply “In the best small city in the west, Cowley, Wyoming.”

Nick Welch

I was the second child and oldest son of the five sons and two daughters born to Art and Mary Welch. We lived west of Cowley in the home now owned by Rodney L. Crosby. We were a close-knit family and we loved the farm life. We all have fond memories of the humble home we were raised in.

We lived on the farm 12 months out of the year, but later on we would live in Grandpa Whitney’s house in town during the winter, then move out on the farm in the spring.

At the age of 16 I began working in the road construction trade in Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota and Montana. Thanks to Jim Frost, Gerald Acton, Paul Meeks, Carl Acton, Glen Harvey and other professionals I became a heavy equipment operator. This trade helped me prepare for future employment.

After Joan Welch and I were married in1957, I continued my employment in the road construction trade. Later, I worked for the Peterson brothers as a sales representative for the Big Horn Canning Company. We lived in Billings and later Great Falls and I traveled over most of the state of Montana selling canned vegetables under the Bigwig label for two years.

After employment with the Peterson brothers we moved back to Cowley where I resumed employment in the road construction trade. We heard about the opening of Big Horn Gypsum Company in Cody. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to work there before the wallboard plant was even ready for production in 1961. After Big Horn Gypsum sold to Celetex Corp. two or three years later I continued my employment in the wallboard production industry where I was the youngest salaried supervisor for the remaining five years we lived in Cody.

At the encouragement of Glen Harvey we moved to Las Vegas in 1970 to go to work for WMK transit mix. They were one of the largest aggregate and concrete producers in the western United States. Lloyd and Mac Taggart owned the business at this time. Later, they also purchased a cinder block plant. I have worked in these two companies as a sales representative, credit manager, trucking supervisor and finally retired after 29 years.

Our move to Nevada was a favorable move, even though we have experienced some trials. Our second daughter, Sidney, was struck and killed by lightning in June 1977 one month before she turned 17. She was junior prom queen and a cheerleader at Valley High School. Losing our daughter, Sidney, was difficult, but it made all of us realize the importance of families, living the best we can, and striving to make sure our children and grandchildren know how important we are to one another. In 1985, Joan, our youngest son and I survived a horrific automobile accident. We were all thrown out of our auto and sustained serious injuries. Then in 1997 Joan was struck with a carotid artery aneurysm in her brain. Her speech and thinking were negatively affected for a period over a year. Dedicated friends and family helped us through these trying times.

Joan and I were blessed to have had the opportunity to serve a 14-month mission in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission Office. I have served as counselor in the stake presidency, bishop, high counselor, choir director, temple worker and instructor in the years we have lived in Nevada.

I am proud to have lived in the small town of Cowley. Over the years while living in Nevada I have boasted about the great state of Wyoming. When we make the drive from Nevada to “home” I jokingly tell friends I always stop and salute for 10 seconds the “Welcome to Wyoming” sign located at the outskirts of Evanston.

On one occasion about 25 of us were watching BYU playing football against Wyoming in a hotly contested game on TV in one of the rooms at the stake center. I was quite vocal each time Wyoming scored or made a gain in yardage. It was dark in the room and I was in the back so those on the front rows couldn’t see who I was. I actually heard a fellow two rows ahead of me lean over to the guy next to him and say, “Who the hell is that back there?”