Sept. 7, 1932-March 16, 2022
Arthur “Art” Welch Jr., 89, of Natchitoches Parish passed away peacefully Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Shreveport surrounded by family.
Art was born Sept. 7, 1932, in the Shady Grove community. He was the only child of the late Arthur Elandon Welch Sr. and Revetta Coatney Welch. At age 13, in the summer of 1946, he joined First Baptist Church-Amulet under Pastor A.M. Brown. He was baptized in Cane River next to the Church Street Bridge.
Art Attended Natchitoches Parish Training School and graduated in 1950. Upon graduation, he moved to Houston, Texas. In 1952, he joined the United States Air Force where he was trained as a Combat Medic.
Upon discharge from the Air Force, Art moved to Los Angeles, Calif., where he pursued a career in aerospace. He earned a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles and pursued graduate work at the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute in Chicago, Ill.
Art worked for Rockwell International in Los Angeles for 23 years. He started his career at Rockwell as a Journeyman Machinist. During this illustrious career, he also held the titles of Manager: Tool & Cutter Grinding and Numerical Control Programming; Manager: Manufacturing Technical Systems and Numerical Control Programming; Program Manager for Sub-Contracts and Manufacturing for L1011, DC10, DC9; Program Manager for the Development and Testing of the Space Shuttle’s fuel transfer pumps; Manager of Test Laboratories for Static and Fatigue Testing B-1 Research Development & Test Program. His final position at Rockwell International was as Director of Manufacturing Operations for Southern California and Texas, producing the B-1 and Space Shuttle hardware components.
After leaving Rockwell International in 1978, Art went on to work for Northrop Corporation in Hawthorne, Calif., where he was Manager of Industrial Engineering and Computer Aided Manufacturing for the F-5 and F-18 fighter jets and the 747 aircraft.
In September of 1980, Art left California when he was offered the position of Manager of Technical Systems Worldwide Operations with International Harvester in Chicago.
In 1982, Art began his consulting career with A.T. Kearney in Chicago. He served as the Director of Manufacturing Consulting Practices for North American Operations.
In 1983, Art made the decision to move back to his hometown of Natchitoches to continue his consulting career. This led to him forming a partnership with a former A.T. Kearney colleague who had started his own business, Michael Paris Associates, LLP out of Oak Brook, Ill. Art served as the Vice President and Chief Technical Officer. From there, he decided to form his own corporation, Welco International, Inc., where he served as the President and Chief Executive Officer for 19 years.
Arthur’s career spanned more than 50 years. He was a Certified Manufacturing Engineer and a Registered Professional Engineer. Art was a consultant to many Fortune 500 Companies and government agencies, such as NASA, Department of Energy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, the U. S. Treasury Department, the Department of Defense War College, The Kohler Company and Max Factor, just to name a few.
Arthur also served as the first Natchitoches Parish Planning Director from 1991-93. During his tenure as Parish Planning Director, Art wrote all the current planning and zoning ordinances for the Parish of Natchitoches. He also managed the development and implementation of the Geographical Information System (GIS) currently being used by the Parish of Natchitoches.
During Art’s distinguished career, he received 28 professional awards, along with acquiring numerous professional achievements.
Awards include Distinguished Engineer of the Year award from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers; Engineering Merit Award from the Society of Professional Engineers; Listed in Who’s Who in Engineering; and his most coveted award was a citation from NASA for his contributions in putting the first man on the moon. Arthur has written many technical papers and presented at over 100 Technical Conferences on Technology, Advanced Manufacturing and Factory Modernization. He was the guest speaker at a World Conference on Advanced Manufacturing in Brighton, England. He was also the U.S. representative to two other world conferences on Advanced Manufacturing.
Arthur took pride in his education, work and friends, but most of all in his family. In 1977, Art met his wife, Frances Irene Woodman, in Los Angeles, where they both worked at Rockwell International. It was mutual love at first sight! Art and Fran fell deeply in love and from this union were born two children, Arthur Elandon Welch III and Taneka Eleana Welch Dunn. Art and Fran remained deeply devoted to each other throughout their 45-year love affair!
In the early 1980s, Art and Fran built their dream home in Shady Grove to raise their family. Throughout his life, Arthur loved building and repair projects and was an avid car enthusiast. He could regularly be found working on odd jobs around the house. In addition, he often worked on his vehicles and taught his children how to repair and maintain automobiles, including changing the oil and fluids, rotating tires, fixing a flat and changing brake pads. He even took on the multi-year project of building a 1936 Mercedes replica, which has been seen in many parades and car shows in Natchitoches.
Art retired from consulting in 2002, and focused on giving back to his community, the City of Natchitoches, Natchitoches Parish and the State of Louisiana.
His many years of service include:
• Chairman of the Long-Range Planning Committee at First Baptist Church-Amulet
• Chairman of the Building Expansion Planning Committee, First Baptist Church-Amulet
• Chairman of the Brotherhood at We Care Ministries
• Chairman of the Finance Committee at both First Baptist Church-Amulet and We Care Ministries
• Chairman of the Natchitoches Parish Fire Protection Development Committee where he wrote the fire protection plans for the 10 fire districts of Natchitoches Parish
• Chairman of the Old Courthouse Museum Feasibility and the Development Committees
• President of Natchitoches Parish Voters & Civic League, Inc
• Chairman of MLK Recreation Complex Development Program
• President of Shady Grove Advisory Council
• Chairman of Board of Directors for the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission
• Served on the Folklife Commission for the State of Louisiana
• President of the Natchitoches Improvement Foundation, Inc.
• Chairman-Finance Committee, Natchitoches Historic Development Commission (HDDC)
• Co-Founder of the LNC Reunion
• President of LNC Foundation, Inc.
• Member of the Board of Directors for the Central Louisiana Girl Scouts Council
• Chairman of Daughenbaugh-Matheny Scholarship Program, Louisiana Conference, United Methodist Church, Alexandria District’s Board of Laity
• Member Board of Directors, Natchitoches Chapter of the Rotary Club
• Chairman of Louisiana Technical College Advisory Board
• Member Board of Directors and Chairman of the Finance Committee for the Natchitoches Parish Council on Aging
• Member of Gideons International
• Member, Board of Directors, Louisiana School of Math, Science, and the Arts
• Director, 2016 Natchitoches Christmas Festival Parade
• Deacon Board, First Baptist Church-Amulet
• Member of the Board of Commissioners for the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center
Arthur has received 36 Local Awards which include: Two “Peoples Involvement Awards” from the Natchitoches Parish Police Jury; Two “City of Natchitoches Mayor’s Awards”; The Tourist Industry Service Award; The “President’s Award” from the Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce; Man of the Year from First Baptist Church-Amulet, 1990; Man of the Year from the Natchitoches Business & Professional Women, 2003, Distinguished Rotarian Award from the Natchitoches Rotary Club; and Natchitoches Treasure, Class of 2011.
Arthur was predeceased by his parents, Arthur Elandon Welch Sr. and Revetta Coatney Welch.
He is survived by his wife, Frances, and his children, Arthur Welch III, Taneka Welch Dunn (Tommy), Crichelle Broussard (Richard), Timmy Watts and Kimberly Williams; two Goddaughters, Shannon Finister (Carldrake) and Aisha Monique Shields (‘Tre); 11 grandchildren, Myron Welch, Demetrece Welch, Stephen Broussard, Patrice Broussard Williams (Jason), Kobe Dunn, Kamron Dunn, Elieser Watts-Rosa, Theo Aristidou, Ambrielle Dunn, Jason Aristidou and Mia Avery Dunn; one great-grandchild, Meshea Broussard; four sisters-in-law, Constance Holt (Leonard), Brenda Fowler (Buddy), Pauletta Shaw (Arthur) and Emily Nance (Tyrone); two brothers-in-law, Coney Woodman II (Beverly) and David Woodman Sr. (Leslie); and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, loved ones, friends and a community who appreciated and loved him dearly.
A celebration of the life of Arthur Welch Jr. will be at First Baptist Church, 508 Second St., Natchitoches, Saturday, March 26. Viewing of remains will be from 10 a.m. to the start of service at 11 a.m. Interment will be in Fern Park Cemetery.