JENERA, Ohio - Charles F. Welly, a former chief of the Jenera Fire Department who was a self-employed carpenter and craftsman and a World War II Navy veteran, died Wednesday in the Blanchard Valley Regional Health Center, Findlay. He was 79.
He died from complications of emphysema, a disease he battled for the last 10 years, family members said.
Mr. Welly, a member of the Jenera department for many years, served as its chief from 1984 to 1990.
He was a member of the Hancock County Firefighters Association. "He became a firefighter because that's the kind of thing he loved to do," his son, Brian Welly, said. "He was very involved in the community, and he enjoyed helping people."
Born in Tiffin in 1925, Mr. Welly grew up in Carey, Ohio, where he attended high school but never finished because he joined the Navy in 1942.
A Seaman First Class, he served on LST 615, a support ship that took him to Japan and the Philippines, his daughter Beatrice Streacker said.
"He was a jokester. He would do anything for a joke," Mrs. Streacker said.
In 1946, Mr. Welly was discharged from the Navy and returned to Carey, where he met his wife, Lucia Grieser, a Latin, French, and English teacher. The couple married in 1952 and moved to Grand Rapids, Mich., where he attended a trade school.
"There was nothing he couldn't build," Mrs. Streacker said. "Most of his work was done at people's houses," she said.
The young couple moved to Jenera, settling on a farm across the field from Mr. Welly's in-laws. His wife returned to teaching at Arlington High School, where she taught for 26 years. She died in May.
He was a past commander of the Arlington Post of the American Legion. He was a member of the Arlington Veterans of Foreign Wars and St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Surviving are his daughters, Beth Bracy, Beatrice Streacker, and Bernice Welly; son, Brian; nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Crate Funeral Home, Arlington. Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The family suggests tributes to the American Legion or the Jenera Fire Department.