In 1914 when times became too difficult economically in Alexander City, Alabama to support his family, Mr. W. M. Welch sent his seventeen-year-old son, O. Thomas Welch, on the train to Kerens, Texas to see if that small town was a good choice for the family to resettle. While in route to Kerens, the train stopped in a tiny rural town in East Texas called Longview. O. Thomas Welch stepped off the train to stretch his legs and in his wanderings through the streets of Longview, he was so impressed with the friendliness of the people he encountered, he wired home to his father that he had found the perfect town to live, and it was Longview! By the time the family arrived in Longview, W.M. Welch already had twenty-five years of experience in the undertaking business. He had worked as a funeral director and embalmer in Alabama since 1889. In order to provide for his young family, he and his son Thomas established Welch Hardware and Undertaking Company in a building on Methvin Street across from the old courthouse, and so began the Welch Family’s long and dedicated service history in East Texas
In 1919, Thomas Welch became the first licensed embalmer in Gregg County, thus bringing a higher standard of funeral professionalism to the community. In 1928 when electricity became are wide, Mr. Welch added an assortment of General Electric appliances to his hardware store.
In 1930 Mr. W.M. Welch died leaving Thomas to oversee the business. Soon after his father’s death, Thomas Welch split the businesses, claimed the name Welch Funeral Home, and moved the funeral division of the family business to a new location at the corner of southeast Whaley and north Fredonia streets where the Petroleum Building currently stands. Unfortunately, in December of 1937, just before Christmas, there was a devastating fire at the hardware store and the building was completely destroyed. Two years after the fire, Mr. Welch decided to withdraw from the hardware business, but keep his General Electric franchise and open a store exclusively for electric appliances on the southeast corner of south Fredonia and east Cotton streets. Also in 1939 he built Welch Funeral Home, a stately colonial building located at 210 South Green Street.
During the course of their marriage, Mr. Welch’s wife, Alta Rita, contributed greatly to the success of the businesses through her many affiliations with church and civic organizations. Mrs. Welch, a woman of great charm and talent, served as a leader of distinction, always reflecting favorably on their businesses. Thomas Welch remained active in the funeral services and insurance business through church, community and state associations until his premature death in 1953 at the age of fifty-five. Mrs. Alta Rita Welch, continued to be an asset to the family businesses until her death in 1984.
Following the death of his father, the torch passed to another generation of the Welch family, and O. Thomas Welch, Jr. assumed management of the family businesses. Thomas remained devoted to the same Welch tradition as his father and grandfather before him. In 1958, William Brewster Welch, Thomas’ younger brother, joined the family firm and with his assistance, Thomas built a new funeral chapel, in 1966. Brewster remained a vital partner with his brother in the family businesses until his early retirement in 1988.
All three children of O. Thomas Welch Jr. eventually joined the staff of Welch Funeral Home however, Thomas Welch III and Linda Welch Walker eventually left to pursue other career paths.
Mr. Welch’s younger son, William Marcus Welch, remains with the organization and represents the fourth generation to continue the family tradition of service to the families of East Texas. Marcus began his career with the funeral home in December 1975 and was promoted to Funeral Director in Charge in November 1989.
In early summer of 1995, The Welch Family purchased a parcel of land at the intersection of Judson Road and Pliler Precise in north Longview. In September 1998, work began on a “state of the art” new funeral facility and in 2000 the new building was dedicated.
In the summer of 2016, the Welch Family chose, R Blake Cammack, a trusted longtime associate and Longview native to continue the Welch Family’s commitment to service. A graduate of Dallas Institute of Funeral Service, Blake has served Longview families since 2007. Blake Cammack and Marcus Welch together with funeral directors Billy Smith, Bill Pierce, and Mike Loyd continue the tradition of service started by W. M. Welch with over 200 years of combined service.