Edsel and Mae Welch
This is a special time of year for Edsel and Mae Welch. Not only does February mean Valentine’s Day, but it is also the month they will celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary.
They have known each other almost all their lives, and it is clear that even after all these years they are still very much in love.
They met in Sunday school when they were kids and basically grew up together in the same community, but Edsel had to travel halfway around the globe before he could make her his bride.
Mae was just 13 when Edsel, then 19, left for the Army. She waited patiently while he was in the Pacific during World War II.
“We wrote letters back and forth and put hugs and kisses on them,” she says.
They were eager to get married, and those letters gave Edsel comfort as he fought thousands of miles away in India, China and Burma.
During the three years Mae waited on the homefront, Edsel was with a 60mm mortar crew and bore ammunition for troops on the front. He recalls several harrowing incidents when he feared he might not make it to his wedding day.
“I had a gun shot out from under my arm,” he says of one such incident. “It split the barrel right in two.” Another time, his unit spent an entire harrowing day climbing a mountain in Burma.
But their prayers were answered, and Edsel returned to the States safe and sound in January 1946. He and Mae married a few weeks later.
Edsel began doing carpentry work, but got his first full-time job at PRTC, where he was a jack-of-all-trades. He was an installer, a troubleshooter, a lineman and a repairman. He retired after 26 years.
Through the years, the Welch’s learned the secrets of making a marriage work.
“I never drew a short pay day,” Edsel says.
“And he had hot biscuits every morning,” Mae adds.
After retiring from PRTC, Edsel returned to carpentry, building 13 Sunday school rooms in the McKee Baptist Church.
Edsel also built the house he and Mae still live in today. “It took me two years while I was working at the phone company,” he says. “When it was completed, I owed $500.”
It is the same house where family members have gathered during the holidays, sometimes hosting up to 65 people. That includes 8 daughters, 17 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
It’s a home that holds lots of memories — and lots of love.
“Now we just sit right here and fight and growl all the time,” Edsel says with a laugh.
Mae shakes her head and smiles. They remain best friends and the love of each other’s lives.