Sunday, June 04, 2006


From the GLACIER REPORTER, Browning, Montana:

James Phillip Welch, age 91, died of natural causes on May 23, 2006, at Browning.

A graveside memorial service will be held at the Dupuyer Cemetery, Dupuyer, Montana, at 2 PM Saturday, June 3.

James was an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe, and was born in Browning on June 3, 1914. He was the youngest of six children born to James B. Welch and Ellen (Sandoval) Phemister Welch. He grew up in Browning and graduated from Browning High School in 1934. Following high school, he attended Haskell Institute where he met Rosella O’Bryan of the Ft. Belknap Reservation. They were married in Malta, Montana, on November 14, 1936.

James learned welding as a young man, and at the beginning of World War II he moved with Rosella and his two sons Gerald (Mike) and James Jr. to Portland, OR, where he worked as a welder in the shipyards there. In March of 1945 he enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, stationed at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

At the end of the War he resided at the Chemawa Indian School at Salem, OR, where he and Rosella were employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1949 the family, which now included a third son, Timothy, moved to Sitka, Alaska, where James worked as a hospital administrator at the Indian Hospital on Japonski Island. After three years in Alaska, he returned with his family to Browning, where he became the treasurer of the Blackfeet Tribe. He then pursued an opportunity in ranching on the Fort Belknap Reservation where he became a partner with Rosella’s father on her father’s ranch.

When the ranch business became uncertain, James decided to return to welding, and the family left Montana for Spokane, WA. After a short stay there, another move was made, to Pickstown, S.D., where he worked as a welder on the Fort Randall Dam construction project on the Missouri River. Later, when construction work on the dam wound down, Minneapolis became his next destination. In the Minneapolis area he continued welding while working on oil refineries, chemical plants, pipelines and other construction projects. In Minneapolis he was also prominent in union affairs as a member of the boilermaker’s union.

In 1960, James and family returned once more to Montana and ranching and farming on the Ft. Belknap Reservation with son Timothy. After a few years in agriculture, he was again employed as a hospital administrator, taking a position at the agency hospital at Ft. Belknap. After retiring from the Indian Health Service, James and Rosella spent time traveling.

In 1987 James and Rosella were divoced, and in 1991 he married Rosalie Scott of Cataldo, Idado. They had one child, a daughter Jamie. James resided in Cataldo until his divorce from Rosalie in 1997.

James then moved back to Montana where he lived with Gladys Cantrell, his friend and companion, in Great Falls. In December of 2003, James entered the Blackfeet Care Center at Browniing where he spent his remaining three years.

James lived a long and diverse life. His major interests were fishing and hunting, collecting Indian and Western art, and seeing new places. He was also a member of the Masonic Order for many years.

He is survived by sons Gerald Welch and wife Jo Ann of Chico, CA, Timothy Welch and wife Kathleen of Billings, daughter Jamie Welch of Saginaw, TX; grandchildren Christine Fisher of Chico, CA; Joseph Welch of Orland, CA; Frank Welch of Havre; William Welch of Havre; Isaiah Welch of Saginaw, TX; and step-grandson Brian Molyneux of Great Falls. He also leaves 12 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by spouses Rosella and Rosalie; sons James P. Welch Jr. and Donald Peterson Welch; brother Charles Welch; sisters Cora Irgens, Helen McGraw, Eula Brubaker and Theda Irgens; and half-brothers Lloyd Welch, Clarence Welch, Anthony Welch, and Robbin Welch.

This obituary was written by Jim's oldest son, Gerald or "Mike." The next oldest son was James Phillip Welch Jr., the well-known writer.

No comments: