Welch, Broadway commissioner, dies at 68

May. 04, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Clemellyn “Clem” Welch, a Broadway Town Commissioner and former Central Carolina Community College professor, died Friday morning at her home.

Welch, 68, taught English at CCCC before retiring and becoming involved with the municipal government of the town of about 1,200 people. She first joined the planning board, staying on even after campaigning unsuccessfully for a seat on the Broadway Board of Commissioners in 2003. In 2007, she tried again and won one of two seats in a four-person race. In 2011, she won re-election in an uncontested race. Several of her fellow Broadway officials spoke about her life Friday afternoon.

Both Broadway Mayor Donald Andrews and Commissioner Lynn West Green, who joined the board the same year as Welch, said Welch was a high-quality person in both her political and personal life.

“She was a truly good friend, a person I could talk to bounce ideas off of,” Andrews said. “... I’d get an honest answer. I might not like it always, but it would be honest.”

Green said she didn’t know Welch well until politics brought them together in 2007, but that she wishes they had had more time to grow their friendship.

“She was just a delightful person, always positive and good to be with,” Green said. “I’m very, very sad to see her go.”

She had survived a cancer scare in the past, but it returned about a year ago, according to her fellow town officials.

Broadway Town Manager Bob Stevens said Welch was one of three people — Andrews and Green were the others — responsible for starting the Broadway Our Way festival, which held its fifth annual street fair two weeks ago. Calling her fair, intelligent and possessed of a rare amount of common sense, Stevens said Broadway lost an excellent ambassador when it lost Welch.

“It is terrible news,” Stevens said. “She was a good person. She was an excellent commissioner, and this town’s going to miss her.”

Andrews said Welch also did a lot of work with veterans’ groups in Lee County and the greater Central Carolina region along with her husband Bill, who died last year. Andrews said she remained active and enthusiastic even when her health was in decline, and that she fittingly was able to attend Broadway Our Way two weeks ago, having fun but also assigning tasks with the skill of a longtime teacher.

“She was a trooper ‘til the end,” Andrews said. “At the last meeting we had, she was telling us how she was going to beat it and then get the rest of us healthy, too.”

Because Welch was elected to a four-year term in 2011, her seat wouldn’t have been up for election until December 2015. Stevens said he didn’t know how, when or if the vacancy would be filled before then, with officials mourning her loss first and worrying about administrative affairs second.

The next Broadway Town Commission meeting will be 7 p.m. May 20.