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Published: Sunday, 7/5/2009

Powertrain worker led churches, sang gospel

The Rev. Willie B. Welch, a longtime Toledo minister who was the pastor of three churches in the city and who loved to sing gospel music, died June 28 at Flower Hospital.

He was 83.

Mr. Welch had been ill for about a year, but the exact cause of death was not known, his sister, Mary Cotton, said.

"He was called by the Lord to be a minister and he came from a family of ministers," she said.

Mr. Welch's grandfather, father, brother, were ordained ministers, as were five uncles.

He started preaching in Toledo in 1960 and was ordained two years later, his sister said.

The Rev. Fred Revels, a friend for more than 50 years, said Mr. Welch delivered a "very powerful and very, very spiritual" sermon every Sunday.

"He was just a wonderful person and he loved the Lord until his last days," Mr. Revels said.

Mr. Welch sang in men's choruses and quartets throughout the city in addition to leading his congregation in song.

During his career in the ministry, Mr. Welch, a native of Arkansas, was the pastor of Antioch Baptist Church, Second Baptist Church, and Mount Olive Baptist.

Mount Olive Baptist was merged in October, 2000, with Paradise Baptist where Mr. Welch was pastor until his retirement in 2006.

He worked in various positions at General Motors Corp.'s Toledo Powertrain plant, where he was employed for 31 years until 1987.

Surviving are his wife Ulalia Welch; son, Carnell Revels; daughters, Myra Gail Hope and Taneeka Grier; sister, Mary Cotton; brothers, the Rev. Joel Welch, John Welch, and Raymond Welch; four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

The body will be in the Dale-Riggs Funeral Home Chapel from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow. A wake service is to be held in the funeral home at 11 a.m. Tuesday followed by the funeral at noon at Calvary Baptist Church.

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