She was preceded in death by her parents Charles and Pauline Welch; brother Richard Welch; and niece Laurie Welch.
She is survived by a loving husband Charles Edward Bowling, Middlesboro; brother James C. Welch, Manitou Springs, Colo.; former sister-in-law Brenda Welch, Charlottesville, Va.; niece Jennifer Welch Larsen, Manassas, Va.; cousin William Welch, Powell Valley, Tenn.; sister-in-law Harvelou Welch, Powell Valley, Tenn.; nephew Richard Welch Jr., Powell Valley, Tenn.; great-niece Lee Ann Welch, Powell Valley, Tenn.; great-nephew Charles Welch, Powell Valley, Tenn..
She also leaves behind her very special friends Harry Hoe, Baylor Fulton, Jessie Hoe, Theresa Beaty, Sarah Hoe, Jean Ausmus, her dear friends at The Avenue Café, Pauline "Tunie" Barry, Bob and Jan Carroll, Alice Harris, Larry Grandey, Leo Haggerty, Rhonda Sivley, James Pursiful, Ben Hickman, and many friends who will miss her zest for life and determined spirit.
Her invariable presence will be missed by the many people she touched in her life through her service to others. She began her life of serving others as a young woman by first serving her country. After graduating from Powell Valley High School and the Nursing School at Knoxville General Hospital, Knoxville, Tenn., in 1943 she enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Her military career spanned 20 years, and included tours during World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam Conflict. Her duty stations included the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Va.; naval hospitals at Mare Island, Calif., Oakland, Calif., Corona, Calif., Memphis, Tenn., Bremerton, Wash., Portsmouth, Va., and Atlanta, Ga, as well as the USS General William Mitchell, TAP 114; she then retired as assistant chief nurse at the Naval Hospital in Beaufort, S.C., (Parris Island) in 1970 as a lieutenant commander.
Upon retirement from the Navy, she returned to her hometown of Middlesboro and continued to serve others. She became the hospital education coordinator for all departments at the Middlesboro Appalachian Regional Hospital. She served in that capacity for 19 years, also acting as a public relations liaison for the hospital, and became active in community affairs.
After retiring from Middlesboro ARH, she continued to remain active in the community as well as her church. She was a lifelong member of First Baptist Church of Middlesboro, where she served as a deacon and Sunday school teacher for several years and was a dedicated member on numerous committees. Her service to the community was extraordinary. She was the executive director of the Cumberland Trails United Way which serves six counties in the Southeastern Kentucky and Eastern Tennessee regions. In addition to this full-time position, she recently had been elected to a fourth term on the Middlesboro City Council, was a Bell County Chamber of Commerce Director, served on the Bell County Tourism Commission, the Middlesboro Downtown Association, Main Street/Downtown Revitalization Committee, the Kentucky Homeland Security/Citizens Corps, was active in the Kiwanis Club, the Middlesborough Garden Club, and the Middlesboro Business and Professional Women's Club. She also served on the advisory boards of the Salvation Army and the Bell County Boys' Group Home. She had a passion for preserving the heritage and history of Middlesboro, and was instrumental in the restoration efforts for the Centennial Park and Historical Canal Walk, Middlesborough Downtown Revitalization, the Alexander Arthur Museum, and the American Association Building.
Her resolute enthusiasm for the projects and causes she championed will be sorely missed by those who worked with her and by a community that benefited from her tireless efforts.
The family will receive friends on Monday from 5-8 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, Cumberland Avenue in Middlesboro. Funeral services will be conducted by Dr. Chuck Summers, First Baptist Church, and the Rev. John W. Bowling, Covenant United Methodist Church.
Burial will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. with full military honors, performed by the American Legion, Dewey Guy Post 114. Internment will be at Middlesboro Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be James Welch, William Welch, Larry Larsen, Richard Welch Jr., Bryan Bowling, Michael D. Bowling, and Robert B. Bowling. Honorary pallbearers are the deacons of the First Baptist Church.
In lieu of flowers memorial gifts may be made to the Cumberland Trails United Way, P.O. Box 2092, Middlesboro, KY 40965.
Arrangements by Shumate Funeral Home.
Guest book at www.shumatefuneralhome.com.