Richard Clayton Welc unexpectedly passed away in his Surf City home on Thursday, December 23, 2021 after a beautiful morning walk with his beloved family and little dog, Pepper. He is survived by his wife Susan; two children, Jennifer and her husband Sam, and Steven and his wife Ashley; two grandchildren, Isaac and Ivy; siblings, Barbara and Martin. He is also survived by the many family members and close friends who have filled his life with good times and irreplaceable memories.
Rich was born on February 3, 1953 to devoted parents, Nelle and Stanley Welc. He was raised in North Plainfield, NJ and spent his summers on Long Beach Island. He graduated from North Plainfield High School, class of 1971, where he starred on the basketball team and met the love of his life, Sue. Theirs is a classic love story that began when Rich brought Sue for Grunning’s Ice Cream where she laughed so hard that her cheeks hurt for a week. For fifty years, Sue would laugh at ALL of his jokes. Their second date was to the shore to meet his family the day after their first date- on the very same property where they built their retirement home last year.
Together with Sue, he raised his children in Flemington, NJ where Rich was an active father serving as the head coach of his children’s youth basketball teams. He was also a steward for youth sports, known for his warmth and inclusivity as he created and directed several youth sports leagues. It was then that he developed a passion for writing, publishing short weekly articles in the Hunterdon County Democrat that highlighted the achievements of every player on the teams that he coached.
Rich was a loving, soft spoken man with a great sense of humor. For a “man of few words,” he was full of stories that he - later in life - shared in the form of written reports. These reports told tales of his quirky and adventurous travel experiences like witnessing the migration of Sandhill Cranes and working event security. It was in this favorite side-gig that he rubbed elbows with well-known stars like Robin Williams, Lady Gaga and Jerry Only of the Misfits. He enjoyed opportunities to recount these unique tales with his family and friends, like the time he was on stage at a Neil Young concert enviably tasked to protect his cherished guitars.
Rich was a hard-working and organized man who also loved spending his free time outdoors and exploring off the beaten path. In his youth, Rich spent his summers alongside his cousins, the Bulavas, Piotrowskis, Seizs and Herbsts clamming, crabbing, sailing, and water skiing in Barnegat Bay. Later in life, he also developed an appreciation for traveling, visiting over a dozen National Parks, frequently with his close friends. On these trips he was known for finding and helping stray turtles cross the road to safety. At home, he was known for his many do-it-yourself projects, and repurposing his unique finds. He was a craftsman who carved over 100 custom wood tikis for friends and family.
Rich had a long and esteemed career in labor relations with General Motors, from which he retired, returned, and retired again after working in New Jersey, Missouri and Kansas. He was revered for his preparedness, immense knowledge, and decorum during negotiations. He was uniquely relatable and treated all people with respect. At GM, he felt valued for his skill and experience, and enjoyed and took pride in his job. In 2017, he retired to help care for his ailing mother.
Above all else, Rich will be remembered for a remarkable devotion to his family and his close relationship with his mother. Continuing his mother’s legacy of providing generational access to the shore for their family was very important to him. Before his passing, 2021 was the best year of his life marked by the birth of his first grandchildren, the marriage of his son, and the completion of his retirement dream home. Rich realized his dream of carrying on the tradition set by his mother, Nelle. He was an extremely generous man and cherished his time spent at the shore with his children, grandchildren, niece Melissa and her daughter, Haley.
The family encourages you to share your memorable stories of Rich on the tribute wall section of this obituary page.
Services will be held at Maxwell-Tobie funeral home, 573 Mill Creek Road, Manahawkin, NJ 08087 on Thursday December 30, 2021 from 12-2PM.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org, the American Heart Association at www.heart.org or the Surf City Volunteer Fire Department and EMS. Donations can be sent in by check made payable to Surf City Vol. Fire Co. & EMS, 713 Long Beach Blvd, Surf City, NJ 08008.