Rita M. (St. John) Welch, 93, of Duxbury, passed away Feb. 6, 2014, surrounded by her loving family. She was the beloved wife of 65 years to the late Thomas F. Frank Welch; daughter of the late Arthur A. and Florence M. (Lipshultz) St. John; loving mother of Patricia M. Fleming and her husband John of Milford, Pa., Thomas A. Welch of Weymouth, Richard M. Welch and his wife Alice of Braintree, Claire D. Casale and her husband Paul of Duxbury, Michael F. Welch and his wife Judy of Mashpee, Marianne Welch-Martinez and her husband Luis of Pembroke and James J. Welch and his wife Ella of Duxbury; loving grandmother of 25; and great-grandmother of 42; dear sister of Marion Foy and the late Florence, Mary, Arthur, Ruth and Frederick. Inspired by her mother, Rita Welch was a pioneer and tireless advocate for the elderly. Together with her husband, Frank, they designed, developed and administrated skilled nursing facilities, assisted living centers, and senior housing residences that today provide care for more than 3,500 residents. Her vision for compassionate care was shaped by legislative advocacy, both as president of the Massachusetts Federation of Nursing Homes, and as secretary of the American Nursing Home Association. She was appointed first Licensing Commissioner for Commonwealth of Massachusetts and proudly held the first license issued in the state. Stonehill College honored her in 2010 with an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. When asked about her years of work, Mrs. Welch stated My primary concern throughout my career was to advocate for the elderly and to ensure the credibility of the nursing home industry. Visiting hours will be held at the MacDonald Funeral Home, 1755 Ocean St., Rte. 139, in Marshfield, Sunday, Feb. 9, from 1 to 5 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 10, from 3 to 7 p.m. Funeral from the funeral home Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 9:15 a.m., followed by a funeral Mass in Holy Family Church, 601 Tremont St., in Duxbury, at 11 a.m. Interment will be held in Mayflower Cemetery. The family requests in lieu of flowers that donations may be sent to the Melissa Beth Casale Scholarship Fund at Rockland Trust Co., P.O. Box 1627, Duxbury, MA 02331. For online guest book and directions, please visit our Web site, macdonaldfuneralhome.com.
Published in The Patriot Ledger on Feb. 8, 2014