Chattanooga and the surrounding area is saying a tearful goodbye to another legendary local broadcaster this week. Don Welch, longtime morning and noon anchor for WTVC-TV News Channel 9 passed away Sunday morning surrounded by his family following a courageous battle with Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia.
Don Welch, the longtime and most recently morning and midday anchor for WTVC-TV News Channel 9 passed away Sunday morning surrounded by his family following a courageous battle with Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia. He was 75.
As his collegue and friend David Carroll eloquenty wrote on his blog about Welch, “We’ve lost a great smile. The life of the party. A man with a booming laugh, whose enthusiasm was contagious. “Hey there, Hi there, Ho there!” “Stay classy, Chattanooga!”
To read David Carroll’s personal tribute to Don Welch, click HERE.
Welch was a native of Dayton, Tenn. and Rhea County and started his broadcasting career as a disc jockey at WDXB-AM 1490 in Chattanooga in the 1960s.
Following that he spent many years in television in the Tennessee Valley, working at Channel 3 WRCB for a time before making the move in 1975 to WTVC Channel 9 alongside newly-hired news anchor Bob Johnson and sports anchor Darrell Patterson, all of whom had also started their broadcasting careers as radio DJ’s, too.
Don left TV for a few years to work as a pipe-fitter before returning to the airwaves to replace the retiring Harry Thornton at WDEF-TV. Welch and co-host Judy Corn anchored “The Morning Show” on WDEF for less than a year before returning to Channel 9 and also working for a short time in Nashville at WTVF and then doing afternoons on WGOW 1150 AM in Chattanooga in the late 1980s.
Don Welch returned to News Channel 9 in the early 1990s, where he stayed until his retirement in 2014, hosting the popular program “Goodmorning Chattanooga” and the midday show, “This N’ That”, for a total of 52 years in broadcasting.
Welch was also very involved in the community both on air and off. A member of the Alhambra Shrine, Scottish Rite and York Rite, Highlander Drum and Pipe Band, among many others.
A public gathering to celebrate his life has been planned. The information is below in his full obituary…
Emmitt N. “Don” Welch, Jr
Emmitt N. “Don” Welch, Jr., passed away peacefully at his Hixson home, surrounded by family, on Sunday, October 15, 2017.
He was born on March 10, 1942, in Dayton, Tennessee, the son of the late Emmitt, Sr. and Mildred White Welch.
Don enjoyed a 52 year career as a broadcaster in the Chattanooga area working with WTVC News Channel 9 where he was affectionately known as “Grandpappy Welch”. Don also hosted Good Morning Chattanooga for many years and ended his career as host of This N That with Don Welch. He retired from the business he loved on April 23, 2014.
Don loved Chattanooga and was very active in many associations and clubs throughout the area. He was a 32nd Degree Mason and held memberships with the York Rite, the Scottish Rite, and the Alahambra Shrine. He was also active in the Royal Order of Jesters, Court 39, as well as, the Highlander Drum and Pipe Band. Don also served on the board for CADAS, the Hamilton County Beer Board and served as a former board member of Goodwill.
In addition to his parents, Don was also preceded in death by his mother-in-law, Muriel Donna McCoy.
Survivors include his wife, Sammie McCoy Welch; children, Cyndi (David) Finley, Stefannie Welch and Mitzi (Slate) Boyd; grandchildren, Ariel (Chad) Brunk, Logan (Ashton) Finley, Olivia and Jake Fuqua and Paytin Boyd; brother, Jack (Jody) Welch; and several nieces and nephews.
A public gathering to remember and celebrate his life will be held on Friday, October 20, 2017, from 4:00-8:00 pm at Hamilton Funeral Home, Hixson Pike.
A private family service and committal will be held at a later date.
Those desiring may make a contribution, in Don’s name, to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Contributions may be made online at www.michaeljfox.org or by mail, Foundation Processing, Michael J. Fox Foundation, Post Office Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014.
Arrangements are by Hamilton Funeral Home & Cremation Services; 4506 Hixson Pike. 423-531-3975.