Posted on: November 19, 2018
Dr. Gary William Welch passed away, after a nearly three year battle with pancreatic cancer, on January 4, 2016, his 73rd birthday. Dr. Welch dedicated his life to the service and care of others, as indicated by his forty-five years practicing medicine. Even in his short retirement, he devoted his time to helping others, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.
Born and Buffalo, NY, and later moving to Richmond, Virginia, Dr. Welch graduated from the University of Virginia Medical School with a Doctor of Medicine, as well as a Ph.D. in Philosophy in Neuroembryology and Teratology, in 1970. He became a Surgical Intern at the then Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and in 1974, as a member of the Medical Corps of the United States Army, completed an Anesthesiology Residency at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. From 1976 to 1977, Dr. Welch did a Surgical Residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. He then joined the staff at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center as an Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Surgery, and would become the Director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. In 1982, he became the Chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology and in 1983, he was promoted to a full Professor. During his tenure at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Dr. Welch remained in the United States Army Reserve as Consultant in Anesthesia at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, where he attained the rank of Colonel. During this time, he was also an author of over fifty publications, book chapters and abstracts.
In 1990, during Desert Storm, Dr. Welch was activated and reported to the Fort Sam Houston Burn Unit in San Antonio. When Desert Storm ended early that year, he became the Regional Chairman of Anesthesiology at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, Texas. He then served two years as the Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs, becoming the Regional Dean for the El Paso campus in 1994. Even as dean, Dr. Welch showed his commitment to patients and his life-long love of learning, continuing a clinical practice one day a week.
In the late 90’s, Dr. Welch moved on to become the Associate Dean for Veterans Affairs, at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and the Chief of Staff/Chief Medical Officer for the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. His love of Texas drew him back to San Antonio in 2001, where he served as a Professor of Anesthesiology for the University of Texas Health Sciences Center and as a staff anesthesiologist at the Brooke Army Medical Center.
In 2009, Dr. Welch tried retirement. He and his wife of 24 years, Mary Welch, purchased a motorhome and travelled for the next two years, volunteering and building homes for Habitat for Humanity. They completed builds in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Las Cruces, New Mexico. But his love of medicine lured him back to Texas, where he joined a colleague in his pain management practice and taught as Professor of Anesthesiology at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) in Lubbock. A popular teacher and mentor, he received the House Staff award for “Physician Mentor of the Year”, and the Anesthesiology “Resident’s Choice Award for Most Outstanding Faculty” for the year 2013-2014 at TTUHSC.
A year after his diagnosis, Dr. Welch retired again. He and his wife moved to Port Charlotte, Florida, where he remained until his death.
Along with his wife, Dr. Welch is survived by six children, Elizabeth WelchCarre of Broomfield, Colorado; Caroline Welch of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Dr. Christian Welch of San Antonio, Texas; Benjamin Welch of New York, New York; Sarah Welch and Matthew Welch, both of Worcester, Massachusetts; a brother, Michael Welch, PhD, of Richmond, Virginia; and a sister Cheryl Lineberry, also of Richmond. A champion marksman in college, and a recipient of a black belt in martial arts in his 60’s, Dr. Welch was a practicing Buddhist and loved riding his Harley, fishing and playing guitar.