© Kristen Iwai
In the July 2023 F3 newsletter, we asked members to share their remembrances of Jack Welch who died July 21st. Here are the tributes we received to our call to share memories.
Jack Welch was many things; an army veteran, supporter of progressive causes, avid biker, hike leader, advocate for trails and open space, and most of all, a friend to many and a great promoter of the Flagstaff community. I met Jack in 2017 when I was a new resident of Flagstaff. I had just joined the Flagstaff Biking Organization. At the time Jack was the membership chair. He sent me a welcome email and said that he didn’t bike much anymore but had a hiking group. He asked if he could put me on his email list for upcoming hikes. The first time I met Jack in person was on one of his hikes. He was driving his old gray truck and cut quite a figure in his signature plaid shirt and baseball cap. I was impressed with his knowledge of the Flagstaff area and its history. I always enjoyed and sometimes made fun of his corny midwestern brand of humor. One of his often-mentioned quotes was “if you are bored in Flagstaff, it’s your own damned fault.” Over the next few years, I went on many of Jack’s hikes and learned so much about the area. I also learned that he made friends with almost everyone he met. Jack Welch was an iconic part of the Flagstaff community. I am proud to have had him as a friend for the past 7 years.
‘Volunteer Extraordinaire’ best describes Jack and his indefatigable presence at Picture Canyon Working Group meetings and at the Preserve. His quiet demeanor, smiling face, and willingness to assist at every event was important to the team’s success. Flagstaff Open Space Treasure: Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve, benefited by his continued effort to keep maps in the entrance box and trash picked up. He led innumerable walks, manned the parking and entrance table for all the larger events such as the Dedication of the Placement on the National Register of Historic Places, the Flagstaff Festival of Science tours, and at Make a Difference Days. The photo shows him at the 2011 greeting table when the Wildcat Reach of the Rio was being cleaned up of trash. We hope Flagstaff will honor his memory by naming one of the trails in his honor.
-Evelyn Billo & Robert Mark
Jack was one of the first people I met in Flagstaff. I visited the senior center, and Jack happened to be there. We immediately got into a conversation about hiking and he shared lots of helpful information regarding trails and resources. Over the years, I found him to be an amazingly positive influence in the community. When I sat on the Open Space Commission, he was often there to keep abreast of our work and show his support for the Commission. He will be sorely missed by so many of us who were fortunate enough to know him.
I was a member of the Board of Friends of the Rio De Flag for a number of years when Jack was our first president. He was always enthusiastic about our mission to promote awareness and understanding of our little stream and it’s entire watershed.He lead hundreds of walks along different reaches of the Rio including well over a hundred walks at Picture Canyon.
Jack told me once that “I just want to be helpful” and he certainly was with Friends of the Rio De Flag and so many other community organizations in Flagstaff.
– Tom Bean
Christine and Duncan Orr want all who remember Jack to know about his artistic creative endeavors that were important to him, in addition to his open space and community walks. Specifically, Jack was an artist of stained glass and latch rug hooking. He was also an avid gardener.
Kristen Iwai took the above photo of Jack Welch. She also interviewed him. See additional photos and read her essay here. From Kristen:
“His positive, generous presence is irreplaceable but I think the world would be better if we all walked the walk, like Jack.”
© Tom Bean © Tom Bean
Celebration of Life