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Celebrating the life of

Robert Wilson (Bobby) Welch

July 23, 1945 - April 29, 2024

Robert Wilson (Bobby) Welch

Robert Wilson “Bobby” Welch joined his Lord and Savior in the early morning hours of Monday, April 29, 2024. Bobby was preceded in that heavenly reunion by his brothers Melton, Charles, Cecil, and Jerry, all of Jackson, Mississippi. He is survived by his wife of 44 years Pamela Culler Welch, daughter Angela Childress (John), son Jeff Welch (Kate), son Charles “Chip” Welch (Meg), Stepson William “Kip” Gardner (Lisa) all of Savannah, and step-daughter Amy Matthews (Chris) of Rincon, sisters Barbara Mardis, Linda Rozina, Judy Quarles, and Anita Hemphill all of Jackson, Mississippi, 17 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, and friend whose loss will leave a void for his family and his many friends.

Bobby was born in the small town of Vaden, Mississippi in 1945, the fifth of nine children entrusted to Woodrow and Annie Ruth Welch. After the family moved to Jackson, Bobby learned the value and necessity of hard work in the family plumbing business, working as a helper with his father and brothers. A standout high school basketball career at Forest Hill High School in Jackson earned him an athletic scholarship to William Carey College, where he earned a degree that led to his first teaching and coaching job in Crestview, Florida. Education proved to be a providential calling and a life-long passion.

He was a uniquely gifted teacher, who could use the perfect set of words to articulate even the most difficult physical motions. “Let the boat drag you through the water, and then push with your front leg to stand up on your ski” was the verbal key needed to learn to slalom. While lesser coaches simply repeated “Put more arc on the ball!” he would say, “Imagine the basketball falling out of the sky” to help the least experienced players understand the concept while making the specific arm-mechanics almost peripheral to the endeavor.

He was a lover of music who unapologetically subjected his children and stepchildren to the music of Jim Reeves, Kenny Rogers and Abba, and to the comedy of Jerry Clower on 8 track tapes for hours on end during trips to Mississippi. There is a substantial likelihood Bobby inspired the Alan Jackson song “Drive.” He was quick to offer the wheel of a car, boat, or riding mower to any and every kid interested and seemed to take as much joy in that as the new driver.

Bobby would delight in beginning an account of his career on a comic note that also serves as a testament to the providence of God and the calling He issued to a gifted teacher and educator. Bobby had a friend and fellow coach whom he worked with at Niceville High School in Florida early in his career named Cliff. Bobby eventually pursued a master’s degree and moved into administrative work in hopes he could “make a little more money.” Cliff Ellis stayed on the coaching path and later took the Clemson Tigers to the NCAA Final Four as head coach and subsequently worked as Head Coach at Auburn University and Coastal Carolina. Turns out that pays OK, too! But the Lord had other plans for Bobby (even if a little less lucrative).

Bobby earned a Master of School Administration at what is now the University Of Louisiana Monroe as he shifted from teaching and coaching to administrative work. Over the subsequent five decades Bobby served as Principal, President, Head of School, Board member, and Consultant for numerous schools in numerous states. Perceiving undesirable trends in education and broader culture, he developed a strong conviction that Christian education was vital, and fundamental to educating children to a standard of excellence. The resulting focus on developing both the mind and heart eventually led Bobby to become a vocal advocate of the Classical model of Christian education. Leading a school merger that founded Hilton Head Prep in South Carolina, bringing stability and development of programs and facilities to Hillcrest Christian in Mississippi and The Dunham School in Louisiana, serving as founding board member of The Habersham School in Savannah, Georgia, and development work for Hope Academy in The Bronx, NY are some of many professional highlights of a career dedicated to impacting lives through ever-improving education.

Bobby was frequently asked to join school accreditation teams based on his extensive knowledge and experience. He founded the Louisiana Association of Independent Schools and served in many leadership roles in associations across the Southeast, including a position on the Louisiana school reform commission established by Governor Bobby Jindal. His impact and influence on the many people he worked with over a career that spanned many decades is difficult to overstate.

Bobby took immense joy and great pride in further work with Paideia, Inc. and in founding On Mission Diagnostics, partnering with his youngest son, Chip. He formed a lasting bond with Paideia founder Bruce Lockerbie and cherished the opportunities Paideia provided working with Bruce and Kevin Lockerbie and many others who worked under the Paideia umbrella. His endless energy, unique vision, and his interest in people led to opportunities to further Christ-centered education in the US, the Caribbean, and on the continents of South America and Africa.

In retirement, Bobby rarely slowed down – along with Pam – attending every recital, drama presentation, basketball, volleyball, soccer or lacrosse game, birthday party, school event, and anything else a grandchild decided to take on. He loved to host family gatherings, and Bobby was famous for buying far more food than the family could possibly eat! He loved to give gifts, and he and Pam made a point to “have Christmas” with each of their children’s families every year. Bobby found few things as enjoyable as a meal out shared with family – whether that be a ne-dining meal for the “grown-ups” or a BBQ joint for lunch. Even as he battled cancer and faced health and mobility challenges, Bobby attended worship services at Community Bible Church in Savannah each week and looked forward to seeing friends and family there.

A memorial service will be held in Bobby’s honor Saturday, May 4, 2024 at Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors on Whitemarsh Island located at 4605 US Highway 80, Savannah, GA 31410 with visitation beginning at 1:00pm and the service beginning at 2:00pm. The service will be officiated by Bobby’s lifelong friend, Dr. Jim Netherton, a fellow Jackson, Mississippi native who currently serves as Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance at Mercer University.

In lieu of owers, and in honor of Bobby’s continuing dedication to promoting Christ- centered education, donations can be made to:

Hope Academy of The Bronx

2206 Andrews Avenue

Bronx, NY 10453.Bronx





Bobby was a good man and a wonderful friend to all. He will be greatly missed.

- Billy Deviney, Jackson, MS

I was sad to learn from Ann McGinty a couple of days ago of the passing of Mr. Welch. As president of SCS in the late 70's, he was a big part of making it such a great school and a wonderful experience for so many of us from all parts of the greater Savannah area. Rest in peace, Mr. Welch, and thanks so much for your kindness and dedication to so many of us. Peace, love, and blessings of comfort to your family.

- Charles "Zip" Zimmerman, SCS '79, Midville, GA

I first met Mr Welch when our family moved from New York to Savannah Ga to attend SCS. My parents, sister and I all toured the school in summer of 1977 and Mr Welch personally gave us the tour assuring my parents that my sister and I would get a great education at Savannah Christian as well as enjoy our time there. He would see me in the hallways during my 3 years there and ask how things were going. He was a kind man and will be greatly missed. My condolences to his family.

- Julie Hieter Hymel, slidell, Louisiana

I am truly sad to hear of Mr. Welch’s passing. My family moved to Savannah my senior year of high school which was incredibly difficult for me. From start to finish, Mr. Welch always took time to seek me out and ask how I was doing. He literally gave me opportunities to feel more connected to SCP than I could have expected or asked for. He knew that circumstances not in my control put me at a crossroad in my life, and encouraged and guided me to the right path that I believe, to this day, made that one school year perhaps my best ever. God bless Mr. Welch, and my condolences to the family.

- Bill Thorne, Washington, DC

Sherri an I will not be able to attend the services today due to prior family commitments but want to send prayers to the Childress and Welch families in this sad time. I first met Bobby when he was my teacher and coach at Armstrong State. We became friends from then on. He would later give Sherri and I our first real jobs at Savannah Christian. Our path would cross again when my grandsons attended The Habersham School where he was also watching his grandsons play basketball. We talked often and he was a very close friend and mentor throughout my life. Sherri and I have always appreciated everything he did for us as a young married couple.

- Jeff and Sherri Goodman, Savannah, Ga

Services under the direction of:

Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel