Faculty union leader, member of S.W. Illinois Labor Council Leo Welch dies at 83

Francis Leo Welch, 83, of O’Fallon, Ill., a biology teacher, faculty union leader and member of the Southwestern Illinois Labor Council, died on Tuesday, July 19, at Memorial Hospital in Shiloh, Ill.   

Mr. Welch was born Dec. 16, 1938, in Mattoon, Ill. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biological science at Eastern Illinois University and an Education Specialist degree from Southern Illinois University.

He taught biology for over 50 years starting at ROWVA High School in Oneida, Ill., then at Illinois State University as a graduate assistant, and for more than 45 years at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville.

He promoted higher education and served in leadership roles in local, state, and national organizations including the Illinois Community College Faculty Association, State University Annuitants Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, and American Association of University Professors. He served as president of the Southwestern Illinois Faculty Union, was president of the Board of Trustees at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston and a member of the Illinois State Museum board.

He was a member of the O’Fallon Democratic Club and served as a precinct committeeman. He traveled extensively and enjoyed St. Louis Cardinals baseball, flat-track motorcycle racing and playing tennis.

Mr. Welch was preceded in death by his parents, Francis and Lena (Hawes) Welch; and a brother-in-law, Jon Young. Surviving are his wife, Kay (Young) Welch, whom he married on Aug. 11, 1963; a brother, Larry Welch and his wife, Joann; plus nieces and nephews.

Memorials may be made to Heartlands Conservancy at heartlandsconservancy.com; or the Belleville Area Humane Society atbahspets.org. An open house to honor his life was held Sunday, July 31 at O’Fallon Station, 212 E. 1st St., O’Fallon.

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