Elizabeth T. Welch, who worked alongside her husband in his Annapolis ophthalmology practice and wrote a monograph on the history of Baltimore's Mount Clare mansion, died Monday of complications from brain cancer at Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson. She was 89.
The daughter of Claude E. Truslow, a poultry farmer, and Mildred Collins, a homemaker, Mildred Elizabeth Truslow was born in Easton and raised on her family's farm, Chesterside, which overlooked the Chester River.
After graduating from Chestertown High School in 1943, she attended Averett College in Danville, Va., and earned a bachelor's degree in 1947 from Skidmore College in Saratoga, N.Y.
She met her future husband, Dr. Robert Bond Welch, at an Eastern Shore regatta for the Hampton one-design class. Dr. Welch was sailing with his college and medical school roommate, Dr. E. Hunter Wilson, in his Hampton.
"They were 18 feet long with a centerboard, and were built in Virginia," Dr. Welch recalled.
She was competing with her two sisters aboard the Three Sisters, also a Hampton, which was named for the three young woman.
"We both came in last at the end of the race, but I always said I was the real winner," said Dr. Welch, an ophthalmologist and former co-director of the retina clinic at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1959 to 1985.
He said she never used her first name, and was known to family and friends as "Betty."
"We dated all through medical school, and Betty was fond of saying that we ate at every dollar restaurant in Baltimore City," said Dr. Welch. "We were married on the day after my last exam on the real Memorial Day, May 30, 1953."
The couple took a wedding trip to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Dr. Welch's father had been in charge of the Christiansted hospital for lepers during the early 1920s.
"When Betty and I got there, we were met at the airport by the chief of police, who gave us an escort to the hotel. He remembered my father fondly and told me that he had been a rookie police officer at the time," Dr. Welch said.
In addition to his work at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Dr. Welch also maintained a private ophthalmology practice with offices in Mount Vernon Place and on State Circle in Annapolis. From 1990 until 2015, Mrs. Welch assisted her husband in the Annapolis office.
"Betty was my right-hand man, and she worked with the patients who loved her. They loved her more than they loved me, because she was so encouraging," said Dr. Welch, who was chairman of ophthalmology at Greater Baltimore Medical Center from 1985 to 1991.
Mrs. Welch was also supportive of her husband's work when he was at Wilmer. Each year, former residents returned for the annual Wilmer Research Meeting, and she hosted an event for those from out of town.
"Betty was a very warm and welcoming presence, and was very protective and supportive of Wilmer residents who were in training," said Dr. Morton F. Goldberg, now director emeritus of the Wilmer Eye Institute. "We all loved her, and she was a constant source of warmth."
Mrs. Welch volunteered with the American Board of Ophthalmology.
"She registered candidates and directed them to the examinations. Years later, doctors would come up to her and say how they appreciated her kind words of encouragement at what was a stressful time," Dr. Welch said.
Mrs. Welch was an active member of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America and a longtime volunteer at Mount Clare in Carroll Park, which had been the home of Charles Carroll (Barrister), one of the wealthiest and most influential citizens of Colonial America.
He had been a framer of Maryland's Declaration of Rights, a legislator and farmer, and had lived at Mount Clare and in Annapolis from 1760 until his death in 1783. Mrs. Welch wrote a monograph of the history of Mount Clare.
She was also active at the historic 18th-century Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis
When Dr. Welch wrote "The Wilmer Institute, 1925 to 2000," his wife assisted him with the manuscript.
"She proofread my history of Wilmer and made many important suggestions," he said.
Former longtime residents of Atwick Road in North Baltimore and later Annapolis, Mrs. Welch and her husband were world travelers who enjoyed traveling by car and ship. They crossed the Atlantic and Pacific aboard liners numerous times.
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"We drove across the country seven times, visiting every state, and drove the coastal route from San Diego to the Olympic Peninsula several times," said Dr. Welch. "We visited Hawaii 13 times when I was a member of the Pan-Pacific Surgical Association."
Mrs. Welch was a member of the Mount Vernon Club, the Elkridge Club and the Johns Hopkins Woman's Club.
"Over our 62 years of marriage, we did everything together. She was the love of my life, my confidant, my supporter, my adviser, and I could not have achieved my goals without her," said Dr. Welch. "I was blessed to have had her for so many years."
Mrs. Welch was a longtime member of St. David's Episcopal Church, 4700 Roland Ave., where a memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Feb. 6.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by two sisters, Margaret Kane Hupfelt of Sanibel, Fla., and Nell Hutchins of Bethany Beach, Del.; and many nieces and nephews.