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Published: Tuesday, 3/5/2013

Woman’s worth to church incalculable

Genoa financialsecretary, 90, cutsback on duties

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dona Mae Welch shows the first adding machine she used as Genoa Trinity United Methodist Church's financial secretary, a ‘Standard Desk Calcumeter,’stamped with a 1901 manufacture date. Mrs. Welch recently decided to relax a bit and become assistant financial secretary. Dona Mae Welch shows the first adding machine she used as Genoa Trinity United Methodist Church's financial secretary, a ‘Standard Desk Calcumeter,’stamped with a 1901 manufacture date. Mrs. Welch recently decided to relax a bit and become assistant financial secretary.
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GENOA — For about 70 years, Trinity United Methodist Church has counted on one woman to help keep its finances in order.

Dona Mae Welch, 90, grew up in the Genoa church at Main and Fourth streets. She started attending as a child with her mother, got married there in 1947, and remains a regular churchgoer. But she’s not just a familiar face; for roughly seven decades, Mrs. Welch served as the church’s financial secretary.

Though she recently shifted duties to assistant financial secretary, she still helps with the Sunday offerings and assists her successor, Colleen Montry. Pastor Cherl Matla estimates Mrs. Welch has handled more than $2 million in her decades of church service.

“I enjoyed every minute of it, and it was something that I felt as though I could do for the church,” Mrs. Welch said.

In late February, church members surprised Mrs. Welch with a celebration in her honor, proclaiming it “Dona Mae Day.” For years, Mrs. Welch’s duties included counting, recording, and depositing financial gifts — a service church officials say she carried out diligently and with dedication. She’s also a well-loved member of the church and community.

“Everywhere I go to visit my people, one of the first things they ask is, ‘How is Dona Mae?’ She’s just everybody’s friend,” Pastor Matla said. The church has about 140 members, with 65 attending services regularly.

Mrs. Welch graduated from the former Clay-Genoa High School in 1940, attended a business college, and worked in bookkeeping jobs in the payroll departments of a few Toledo dairies. She stopped working outside the home shortly after marrying her husband, Larry, who died in 2000. The couple’s orchard and fruit stand, Welch Orchards, on State Rt. 51 east of Genoa drew patrons for its apples, cider, and sour cherries, Mrs. Welch said.

She remembered starting her duties as church financial secretary after the woman who had been doing the work wanted to leave the post. The previous secretary showed Mrs. Welch how to do the job. It stuck. “I said, That’s one thing I could do for the church. I didn’t think I would be a good Sunday school teacher,” she said.

Her service wasn’t limited to counting tithes, however. Mrs. Welch also helped with Kiwanis dinners and other gatherings, and is known for her deviled eggs. She also helps organize the ordering of lilies at Easter and poinsettias at Christmas to decorate the altar.

“For being 90 years old, she’s unreal,” said Russ Bower, chairman of the church finance committee, who said she’s known for her regular attendance at Genoa football games.

Pastor Matla called Mrs. Welch faithful, committed, always willing to help.

“That church is very special to me, and it’s been very important in my life,” Mrs. Welch said.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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