There once was a lawyer named John
At a hundred and more, now he’s gone.
Since for every occasion
He'd write an ovation,
His legacy lives on and on!
John Stanley Welch summited his final peak in Provo, Utah, on February 13, 2021, age 100 years and 6 months, tenacious to the end and arriving in time to be reunited with his soulmate Nita for Valentine’s Day.
John was born on August 9, 1920, in Jerome, Idaho. He was the son of Eulalia Sorensen and John Shaw Welch, and the fourth in a line now of seven John Welches. He grew up in Boise and Cache Valley, Utah, and graduated at age 20 as valedictorian from Utah State University just prior to joining the Army. He reported for duty on December 7, 1941, and spent World War II with anti-aircraft artillery, returning home from Germany and Belgium after V-E Day.
John and his college sweetheart Unita Woodland married on July 18, 1942; he always said that his life didn’t really begin until that day. They were later sealed in the Logan Temple, and had five children: Ann (deceased; Don) Pearson, Jack (Jeannie) Welch, Jim (Deanne) Welch, Barbara (Lew) Cramer, and Chuck (Cathy) Welch. John and Nita celebrated their 75th anniversary just months before she passed away three years ago.
John attended Harvard Law School on the GI Bill and was the 8th lawyer to join the now-international Los Angeles firm Latham & Watkins, becoming effectively one of its founding partners. He spent his career practicing labor law and pioneering the field of employee benefits. He designed and built two homes in La Canada, California, and spent happy hours cultivating his fruit trees and gardens. The mountains, both in winter and summer, were his passion, which he shared with his 100+ descendants, even skiing with great-grandchildren at age 99.
John was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; he was bishop of his beloved La Canada ward and served a mission with Nita teaching at BYU-Hawaii. He was also a consummate athlete and wordsmith: he logged over 4.3 million vertical feet skiing in the Canadian Rockies, had four golf holes-in-one, hiked dozens of peaks in the High Sierra, became famous for regularly climbing all 50 flights of stairs in his downtown LA skyscraper, and was still writing limericks and conquering crossword puzzles at 100. The Welches loved education and generously gave hundreds of scholarships at USU and the BYU Law School, and funded numerous other causes, including biblical research and Book of Mormon Central. John was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from USU at age 98.
John is survived by his brother Robert (Shirley) and his devoted Welch Tribe. He taught us all important lessons about family and faith, loyalty and leadership, integrity and endurance, work and worship. He was truly a Grand Father. A private family burial was held at Larkin Sunset Lawn Cemetery in Salt Lake City, with a memorial service to follow at a later date.