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Alonzo D. WELCH



WELCH, Alonzo D.Age 95. Passed away peacefully at his home on Sunday, July 14, 2013. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of sixty-nine years, Katherine Netterville Welch; his parents, Samuel Welch and Lucy Emily Garner Welch; his brothers, Roy Welch, Willis C. Welch and Hatley Welch; his sister, Eula Leona Welch Earnest. He is survived by his three daughters, Rosalind Seabrook and Mary Cooper of Madison, Mississippi and Kanet Thomas of Westlake Village, California; his sons-in-law, Doug Cooper of Madison and James Thomas of Westlake Village, California; his seven grandchildren; thirteen great grandchildren. Alonzo was born on May 17, 1918 in Hickory Flat, Mississippi. He attended the public schools of Mississippi, Lipscomb University, Pepperdine University, the Pacific School of Religion, and the University of Mississippi. He earned a B.A. from Lipscomb and an M.A. from Ole Miss. He also attended Law School at Ole Miss and taught English there and at Lipscomb. Alonzo was a life-long member and long-time minister in the Churches of Christ, most recently a member of the Madison Church of Christ. He preached his first sermon at age nineteen and continued regular preaching until age eighty-nine. For twenty-six of these seventy years, Alonzo served as full-time pulpit minister in churches in Oakland, California, Nashville, Tennessee, Oxford, Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee and Jackson. His work in Memphis was at the Union Avenue Church of Christ, and in Jackson at the Meadowbrook Church of Christ, serving as that congregation's first minister in the 1960s. He appeared on numerous Bible lectureship programs and held countless gospel meetings during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Following his years in full-time ministry, he established several Christian service organizations. He was co-founder and president of the Mississippi Christian Foundation; co-founder of Sunnybrook Children's Home, where he served thirty years as superintendent and president of the Board of Directors; founder and executive director of Natchez Trace Academy; and co-founder and secretary/treasurer of the Board of Directors of Sunnybrook Estates, a retirement community in Madison. Side-by-side always with Alonzo, and integrally involved in all these endeavors, was his devoted wife Katherine, whom he met and married in 1942. Alonzo's work was recognized with numerous honors, awards, and citations over the years, among them a service award given at the Pepperdine University Bible Lectureship, an Ageless Hero award from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, a street in Madison named for him, and a day proclaimed in his honor by the city of Madison recently on his ninety-fifth birthday. Alonzo was a beloved teacher, preacher, orator, author, visionary, son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, servant of the Lord, citizen, and friend. All who knew him well will miss him greatly. Many others will continue to benefit from his influence through his good works. His leadership and God's blessings enabled hundreds of homeless and needy children to pass through his arms of love and become productive and outstanding adults; and many others, in the latter years of their lives, have enjoyed the benefits of Alonzo's foresight in the beautiful retirement facility Alonzo co-founded, which is their loving and comfortable home. Alonzo was an optimist, always seeing the sunny side of life. It is fitting that his legacy includes Sunnybrook Children's Home, Sunnybrook Estates, and his home of the last several years of his life, Sunset Hill. Alonzo's great works and spiritual commitment are exemplary for us all. His long and productive life was truly one well lived, and his legacy is deep and long-lasting. Alonzo was in declining health for the past several months and was ready to meet his Lord, to whom he has gone home at last. His daughters, Rosalind, Kanet and Mary would like especially to thank Alonzo's caregivers who provided him with constant support and exemplary attention to his needs. These individuals include Terellis Blackmon, Bernice Brown, Terri Hogue, Carolyn Roberson, Mecole Roberson, as well as Barbara Sonugu and Ben Hawthorne of Camelia Hospice. Open visitation is from 4:30 til 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 18, 2013 at Wright and Ferguson in Madison. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, July 19, 2013 at the Meadowbrook Church of Christ with Interment in the Natchez City Cemetery later that day. Pallbearers will be Patton Seabrook, Shayne Haseloff, Nathan Thomas, Pat Seabrook, Will Seabrook, Charles "Bubba" Martin, Timothy R. Waldrop and Timothy M. Douglas. Honorary Pallbearers are members of the Board of Directors of Sunnybrook Children's Home and members of the Board of Directors of Sunnybrook Estates. Donations in memory of Alonzo D. Welch can be made to the Sunnybrook Children's Home, P.O. Box 4871, Jackson, Mississippi 39296-4871.

Published in The Tennessean on July 16, 2013
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