- Category : 1918-births
- Type : GP
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Separation 2
American politician who served from 1964 to 1973 as the mayor of Houston, Texas, then the sixth largest city in the United States.
Houston grew immensely when Welch was mayor. In 1963, Houston's population reached over one million people, yet was then still considered a "small" city in the eyes of the national media. Under Welch, several events put Houston prominently on the U.S. and world maps, including the opening of the Astrodome in 1965 and the Houston Intercontinental Airport in 1969. NASA at nearby Mission Control sent a man to the moon. Lake Conroe and Lake Livingston opened to provide water for Houston. Welch also closed forty inefficient sewage treatment plants, began cleaning up the Houston Ship Channel, focused on bayou beautification; and began development of the downtown Civic Center, among other accomplishments. It should also be noted that Welch was the first Houston mayor to win all precincts during one of his reelections, including predominantly African American areas with which some claim he had trouble.
In early 1985, Welch was a leader in the opposition to the extension of job protection rights to homosexuals employed by the city government. Welch came back that year to run against incumbent Mayor Kathy Whitmire, who had served since 1982, in the Houston Mayoral Elections. Some of his comments (namely his candid quote caught by a microphone on live television, suggesting that one way to curb the spread of HIV would be to "shoot the queers") upset the city's gay community. The Houston GLBT Political Caucus supported Whitmire, his opponent in the race. She went on to defeat him in that race, remaining the city's mayor until the early 1990s.
He married his first wife, Iola Faye Cure, on 17 December 1940. She died in 1991. Welch died at the age of 89 from lung cancer on 27 January 2008 in Houston. He was survived by his second wife, Helen, and five children.