Joseph E. Welsh, a retired Baltimore County public school educator who was also a hospice volunteer and Eucharistic minister, died Monday of melanoma at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.
The Oak Crest Village resident was 80.
"He was both my teacher and class adviser, and as a teacher, I loved him. He made a big impact on all of our lives," said Laurie J. Bender, who graduated in 1991 from Parkville High School. "He was one of those teachers who helped you learn in a nonthreatening and humorous manner. Some teachers kept you on edge, but not Joe."
The son of a boxing manager and a homemaker, Joseph Eugene Welsh was born and raised in Baltimore, where he attended St. Elizabeth of Hungary parochial school near Patterson Park.
He graduated in 1951 from Calvert Hall College High School and entered the Christian Brothers. After graduating in 1955 from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, where he earned his bachelor's degree, he embarked on his teaching career.
He held parochial school teaching assignments in Cumberland; Philadelphia; Arlington, Va.; Canton, Ohio; Miami; and at his high school alma mater.
Mr. Welsh also earned a master's degree in theology, and a master's in U.S. history and political science at Villanova University.
He did additional graduate work at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Hartwick College, Vanderbilt University and Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College.
In 1968, Mr. Welsh left the Christian Brothers and began teaching in the city's Fairmount Hill Junior-Senior High School.
Later that year, Mr. Welsh joined the faculty of Woodlawn High School, where he taught social studies and psychology for 18 years.
In 1986, he began teaching at Parkville High, from which he retired in 1991.
"He always had a smile and put everyone in a good mood," said Ms. Bender, who was a member of Mr. Welsh's social studies class. "He was well-liked by all the students because he was warm and loving. No one disliked him. That would simply be unimaginable."
Ms. Bender recalled when her class held its five-year reunion, Mr. Welsh attended the gathering.
"He brought medals for all of the class officers. It was so sweet," said Ms. Bender, who lives in Carney. "We kept in touch over the years through cards and letters and sometimes we'd go to T.G.I. Friday's."
Ms. Bender said that she reconnected with Phylis Welsh, Mr. Welsh's wife, in 2011 after the couple moved to the Parkville retirement community where she is a senior sales consultant.
As a teaching aide, Mr. Welsh used slides he had taken of historic sites from all over the nation.
"He loved history and he wanted his students to have a sense of history. He had amassed more than 5,000 slides," said the former Phylis Kramer, his wife of 44 years. "That way he kept their attention."
Mrs. Welsh said her husband also had a vast repertoire of jokes that could be used for any occasion.
"He once said to a student, 'If you can't stand for something, then sit,'" she said.
After retiring from county public schools, he continued to substitute-teach at City College.
Mr. Welsh and his wife were marriage facilitators, serving for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, in Florida when they lived there briefly, and later when they moved to Loganville, Pa., after having been longtime Cockeysville residents.
For the past decade, Mr. Welsh was a volunteer and a pastoral and Eucharistic minister at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium, where his wife joined him in his work.
Maryanne Yannarell, director of volunteer services at Stella Maris, said prospective hospice volunteers have to fill out a form.
"One of the questions is, 'Why do you want to become a hospice volunteer?'" she said. "In his handwriting, Joe had written, 'Because as long as Christ did it to the least of my brothers, you did it unto me. I want to stay close to Christ.'"
She added: "That's what our volunteers are all about, and Joe was one of our best."
Ms. Yannarell said that the couple came every Tuesday night to work in the in-patient unit and in pastoral care.
"Joe loved to tell stories and he loved a good joke. He was an extrovert but in a quiet sort of way. He was not overbearing," she said.
Sister Kathy Dauses, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis, is the chaplain in the hospice inpatient unit.
"To be able to give comfort to patients and their families is a gift," said Sister Kathy. "Joe had a deep faith and he was able to share with those who were overwhelmed with the reality of the death of their loved ones."
Sister Kathy said that even after the couple moved to Loganville, they continued their Tuesday night shift.
"They had a faithfulness to hospice and would come on Tuesday evenings at 6:30," she said. "They had the special gift of time, faith and humor. Joe could always see the positive in things."
After moving to Oak Crest, Mr. Welsh continued his work as a pastoral visitor and Eucharistic minister in the retirement community's health center.
Mr. Welsh was a basketball fan and especially enjoyed March Madness, family members said. He also enjoyed softball and reading.
He was a communicant of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Roman Catholiic Church in Timonium.
Mr. Welsh donated his body to the State Anatomy Board, family members said.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Monday in the chapel at Oak Crest Village, 880 Walther Blvd., Parkville.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Welsh is survived by a son, Patrick Joseph Welsh of Canton; a daughter, Lisa Welsh Dannenfelser of Cockeysville; and two grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun