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Local: Former Madison County Clerk and County Commissioner passes away

Jacob Bembry: Greene Publishing, Inc.

Alfred Welch, 78, former Madison County Commissioner and Clerk of the Court, passed away Friday evening, July 28, 2017, surrounded by the family he loved and who loved him.

He served as the Madison County Clerk of the Court for 12 years and served as the District 5 County Commissioner for four years.

Welch was born Dec. 30, 1938 in Lee. He graduated from Madison High School and Florida A&M University. He was a veteran, having served ten years in the Florida National Guard.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Libby, of 57 years; daughter, Vivian Searcy Milton (John); son, Allen Welch (Heather); granddaughters, Alexandria McCall (Carson) and Ashlyn Welch (Travis); grandsons, Rob Searcy (Kristin) and Cooper Welch (Caitlin); great-grandson, Grant Carson McCall; and two sisters, Wanda Hodnett and Alvera Rhoades. He was preceded in death by his parents, Ted and Kathleen Welch, and brother, Dale Welch.

In Feb. 1960, he and Libby were wed, and they returned to Lee where they became pillars of their church and community.

Alfred was a farmer, a correctional officer, and a realtor for Searcy Realty, in addition to being a public servant and a friend. He was a Shriner, a Mason, a member of the Lions Club, and a leader in the First United Methodist Church in Lee.

Alfred always entertained “angels unaware,” never meeting a stranger. He sought the good in everyone, loved his family wholeheartedly, and was an inspiration to everyone. He believed the glass was always at least half-full, if, it in fact, was not overflowing. He would give a person the shirt off his back, and ask if they needed to be fed.

Heather Welch, Alfred’s daughter-in-law, has a few “Papa Alfred” stories she can tell. “He always called me ‘Sweet Thing’ or ‘Sweet Pea.’ I always felt like I was one of his daughters too,” she said. Heather said when she was dating Allen, Alfred would call his son and ask, “Can you help me at the barn? It will only take a minute.” Three hours later, Allen and Heather would still be at the barn, trying to keep up with Alfred. “He was a bundle of energy,” said Heather.

She also said that Alfred used to tease her and tell her he was going to teach her children, Cooper and Ashlyn, to “fish and cuss.” “Well, he did teach them to fish,” she said.

“He was a wonderful brother,” said Welch’s sister, Wanda Hodnett. She could remember there never being any harsh words spoken between the two of them. “We were very close and laughed constantly when we were together,” she said. “I spent the whole day with Alfred and Libby on June 11, putting up field corn. He cooked us a steak for lunch and we had corn and steak. I will miss him terribly. Two brothers (their brother Dale earlier passed away) in five months and one week is a lot, but I will see them again. Praise God for His faithfulness, peace, and comfort.”

Bryant Thigpen, a Madison realtor, respected and admired Welch as a businessman and a person. “Madison lost a phenomenal real estate broker and an even better guy today, but Heaven gained another saint. Alfred was always great, fun to work with, and was an honest and straight-up guy that I had a lot of respect for. So sad to hear of his passing and my condolences to the family during this difficult time,” said Thigpen.

Former Madison County Tax Collector Wes Kelley, who was elected in 1980, the same year that Alfred was elected Clerk of the Court, said that he and Welch’s staff worked across the hall from each other and that both staffs worked well together. “He and I had some good times together,” said Kelley, “and we worked good professionally together.”

Funeral services were held Monday, July 31, 2017, at 11 a.m. at the Lee United Methodist Church. Visitation was one hour prior to the services at the church. Interment followed at Macedonia Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, 4458 NE County Rd. 255, Lee, Fl. 32059 or to The Madison Youth Ranch, PO Box 38, Pinetta, Fl. 32350.

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