By Chris Winters Herald Writer
ARLINGTON — William E. “Bill” Welsh was by all accounts a generous man.
A trained electrician, he never hesitated to help friends and acquaintances who needed his skills.
That’s what Welsh was doing March 22 — helping install a water heater in a home on Steelhead Drive in Oso.
Welsh, 66, of Arlington, died in the mudslide that destroyed that entire neighborhood. A friend helping with the installation, Stephen Neal, 55, of Darrington, and the home’s owner, Amanda Lennick*, 31, of Oso, also died in the slide.
“He was a very giving man,” said Barbara Welsh, his widow. “And he always smiled,” she said.
Welsh grew up in Sedro-Woolley, graduating from Sedro-Woolley High School in 1966. He entered the Army and was stationed in Germany for a year before being sent to Vietnam.
“He always said he survived Vietnam for some reason. I guess to meet me,” Barbara Welsh said.
They met through a friend in a Safeway store in 1970 and were married a year later.
He eventually went to work for Evergreen Modular, which later became Whitley Evergreen, a manufacturer of modular homes and buildings in Marysville. He stayed with the company for 20 years.
“He was getting ready to retire,” Barbara Welsh said.
“He just wanted to make sure, when he left, there was someone there to take that position,” she said.
The Welshes raised two sons, Christopher, 45, of Arlington, and William Wayne, 42, of Okanogan.
Bill Welsh was active in sports, running track and playing football in high school and later coaching youth baseball and football. He played golf on Sundays and every Friday night he and Barbara went bowling as part of a league.
“We always considered that our date night,” Barbara Welsh said.
“Last Friday I had to be brave and went to the league. Generally, my husband was more of a talker. Now, people were amazed how much I talked that night,” she said.
The Welshes’ niece, Tammy Oommen*, said her uncle was a natural teacher, and as she grew older, she came to appreciate his company as an adult.
“He liked to discuss politics with his nephews and nieces, and my kids have probably gotten into politics because of him and Grandpa,” Oommen said.
“He was fun, complicated and he was a good person. He helped a lot of people,” Oommen said.
His longtime golf partner, Geno Burbank of Marysville, said Bill Welsh often came around to help with electrical problems that he couldn’t solve himself.
“He was always one of the first ones there when you needed help,” Burbank said.
“He was helping out and he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he added. “He’s going to be really missed.”
In addition to his wife and two sons, Welsh is survived by a sister, Jackie, of Illinois, and brothers Michael Welsh of California and Daniel Welsh of Mount Vernon.
A memorial service for William Welsh will be 2 p.m. Saturday at the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum, 20722 67th Ave NE, Arlington*.
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction, April 18, 2014: Amanda Lennick’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this article.