Dr. Daniel J. Welsh, a longtime dentist, business and community leader in Emmetsburg, died Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011, in Sioux City. He was 87.
Dr. Welsh practiced dentistry for 53 years before his retirement at age 80 and was a former chairman of the Iowa State Board of Dental Examiners. He also served in several community leadership positions, including two terms as chairman of the Palo Alto County Hospital board, almost 30 years on the Emmetsburg Airport Commission, five as director of Holy Family Parish and four on the board of Emmetsburg Country Club. He won the Rotary Club's Business & Industry Award of Merit in 2003 in recognition of outstanding service toward the betterment of Emmetsburg.
Daniel Joseph Welsh was born April 9, 1924 in Coon Rapids, the youngest of six children of Daniel Welsh, a railroad worker, and Elizabeth Vanderloo Welsh, a homemaker and cook. He always treasured his childhood in the small town, where he made many lifelong friends and graduated from Coon Rapids High School. He entered the U.S. Army during World War II, serving in England and France. After the war he went to Creighton University with the aid of the G.I. Bill and graduated from the Creighton School of Dentistry in 1951. While a student at Creighton, he met his future wife, Margaret Mary Spellman of Omaha. They were married in 1949 and chose Emmetsburg as the place where he would start his practice and they would raise their family.
The young dentist started his career in a cramped second-story office above the former Potter's grocery store, staying there for many years until he decided to build a new office across from the Post Office. As his practice grew throughout Palo Alto County, he was recognized by his peers with state and regional honors. He served on the Iowa State Board of Dental Examiners as well as on a board that examined the qualifications of dental students in several states. He also was on the advisory board of the Creighton dental school.
Dr. Welsh was a devoted family man and an avid outdoorsman who loved small-town life. His hobbies included golf, sailing, hunting and fishing. He died Saturday night at Bickford Assisted Living in Sioux City, where he had resided for the past few years after his health declined. Even though he yearned to return to his home in Emmetsburg, he made a new life at the Bickford, befriending the other residents and the staff who affectionately called him "Doc".
Dr. Welsh is survived by four daughters, Kathleen Welsh Wilson of Camarillo, CA, Priscilla (Mark) Stokes of Sioux City, Mary (Mike) Higgins of Early, and Dr. Johanna ( Dr. Greg) Halbur of Sioux City; a son Dr. Stephen (Kathy) Welsh of Columbia, MO; 21 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, a son Daniel and Margaret, an infant daughter who died at birth.
Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. today, Tuesday, at the Martin-Mattice Funeral Home in Emmetsburg.
A funeral Mass is scheduled at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, at Holy Family Parish in Emmetsburg with burial to follow at St. John's Catholic Cemetery.
A reception celebrating Dr. Welsh's life is planned from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Dublin's restaurant.
The Martin-Mattice Funeral Home is taking care of arrangements.
Condolences can be left at: www.martinmatticefuneralhome.com