In Loving Memory of Pastor Clarence Welch
Superintendent Elder Clarence Welch
& Marilyn D. Welch

  Elder Welch was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He has been married to Sis. Marilyn D. Welch  for 55 years and is the father of two children, Sharon & Ricardo (Ricky).  


Their family has been expanded to include a daughter-in-law, Darlene Welch. five grandchildren, Anthony & Wife Nadia, Lamour, Rosharra, India, Tehira.Three great-granddaughters, Amanda, Janiyah & Gabriel and two great-grandsons, JaielJemil.  


Over the  years his family has extended to include   Darlina & husband Elder Booker Herring, Wiley Hubbard (Leah, Elisha, and Malikah), Janika & husband Dominic Polk (Jaleah & Dominic Jr.), Jennifer & husband Alton McLeish (Corey & Cobey)


Click photos to enlarge

                                      Superintendent Elder Clarence Welch 

                                    Went Home To Be

With The Lord On

                                  February 9, 2013

Elder Clarence Welch was born in St. Petersburg, Florida on December 1, 1930, to the late Deacon Flagmon & Mother Gussie Welch. He is the third-born of four children – David, Glennette, & Johnny. Elder Welch was a product of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). He received his religious training under the leadership of the late Bishop E. D. Johnson. 


Elder Welch was saved and filled with the Holy Ghost and dedicated his life to Christ as a young man. He was called into the ministry and served under Elder E. D. Johnson until appointed pastor of the 14th Street COGIC in March 1964. The church began to grow under the great leadership of this devoted man. Many souls were added and a new dimension for the saints of God was formed.  


In 1966, the Holy Spirit led Elder Welch to rename the church that had been in existence for 61 years. Being a pastor with a background and ministry based upon fasting and praying, the new name was born and is known today as Prayer Tower COGIC. In addition, Elder Welch is actively involved in the Eastern Florida Jurisdiction of the Churches of God in Christ, Inc.  He has served as the Chairman of the Banking Committee.  


On January 18, 1987, Pastor Clarence Welch received a distinguished honor of being installed as the Superintendent of the Bartow District, Eastern Florida Jurisdiction.

The Life & Legacy Of Elder Clarence Welch Honored By Suncoast Hospice


ST. PETERSBURG – Pastor Clarence Welch has been called a champion by many in the St. Petersburg area. Revered for his undying support of family, community and even the nation, the late Elder Welch has always been a man of honor. 


Sunday evening, friends and family gathered at Florida Suncoast Hospice, located at 3050 1st Ave. S., to honor the life and legacy of Elder Welch and witness the unveiling of a spectacular fountain dedicated to him.

Water streaming down praying hands, the fountain depicts the life-long mission of a man whose sole purpose in life was to guide, mentor and protect the young and those in need. “It was simply beautiful, words can’t explain it,” said Marilyn Welch his wife of more than 50 years.


“The praying hands were perfect for him, something he always adored.” They met when she was in the seventh grade. A few years younger than Clarence, Marilyn knew from the start she was going to marry him. Not able to date until permission was granted by her parents, it wasn’t until the ninth grade before they started courting. 


“We would date in the living room,” she reminisced. “My mother had an ironing board and I had twin sisters that would sit between me and him.” They dated for six years before being separated.


He went to the service, drafted into the army where he served in the Korean War in the United States Army’s Combat Air Patrol Unit. An outfit that provided backup to fighting troops. She went off to cosmetology school. But they stayed in contact and eventually married. 

But his true love was his ministry. The Senior Pastor of Prayer Tower Church of God in Christ, from 1964 up to the time of his passing, Elder Welch never took a day off from spreading the word of God to all he met. Especially those he came across during his time on the Suncoast Hospice Board of Directors. A position he took up willingly for over 20 years. “It was partly his vision,” said Board Chair Kelli Hanley-Crabb as she named him the driving force behind the building of the hospice facility. A solid fixture in the end of life care organization, Elder Welch was one whom everyone could depend on and look to for advice. “He truly put others first in his life. This center was his baby.” 

After serving his country, he headed to Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Earth and Life Science while earning a minor in chemistry. He went on to teach Science at 16th Street Middle School and later Azalea Middle both in Pinellas County.


His brother Johnnie Welch remembers all the hard work Elder Welch put in at hospice. “It was the number one place he wanted to work,” he said. “He tried to bring things down to the southside of town.” he also credits the building of the YMCA on First Avenue South to his brother as well. 


And as family members gathered around the fountain they were overcome with emotion, grateful for the permanent memorial erected in honor of the man who gave his heart and soul to helping others. Sometimes at his own expense.


“It is outstanding, beyond what I thought it would be,” said his son, Rev. Ricardo Welch. “ The thought put into it, it really represents him.” 


Both Ricardo and his sister Sharon pledged to support hospice in every way, “Just as my dad did,” said Ricardo who also spoke of Elder Welch’s commitment to bringing help to those in need, especially on the south side of St. Petersburg. 



“My Dad was a very soft-spoken man,” explained daughter Sharon who talked of his unyielding devotion to education and the hospice family. “He wanted people to have an awareness of what hospice really is,” she said, now dedicated to spreading the word of the various services the facility provides.

A staple in the community and active in anything that would benefit children and families of lesser income, Elder Welch always had a prayer in his heart and on his lips. He put his ministry into words by writing and publishing a book for children entitled,“My Friend the Lizard,” in which he transmits the message of the evolving circle of friendship and the joy of everyday experiences. 


His other accomplishments in the community include co-founder of the YMCA’s Neighbor-To-Neighbor Christmas Program, working with various organizations in the community to ensure holiday baskets and food distribution to those in need, as well as reaching out to others through his church’s tutorial program and summer camp.

 Clarence Welch was 82 at the time of his passing, but will be remembered forever in the hearts of those he cared for. His legacy will forever be entombed in the hallways of Suncoast Hospice for all who pass through its doors to pay their respect for a life well lived. He, along with the rest of the Welch family will be in attendance today at a thank you celebration honoring hospice volunteers in an effort to uphold Elder Welch’s contribution to the facility. County Commissioner Ken Welch, and nephew to the late Elder Welch, will take his place on the board and continue the Welch family legacy. 

Although Elder Welch passed away earlier this year, his good deeds and big heart will never be forgotten by those in the community who just a little more special for strangers and loved ones will never be forgotten and forever memorialized with the fountain that rests in his home away from home.every day to make the His efforts worked with him. 



The Weekly Challenger

1137 37th Street South - St. Petersburg, FL 33711

Phone: 727.321.0670

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