Mary “Mickey” Maxine Welch was born April 14, 1927, the daughter of the late Samuel Henry Shriner and Grace Mae Barnhart Shriner.
Mickey graduated from Parkersburg High School with the January Class of 1945. Her class was the last PHS class to graduate in January.
In 1946 Mickey married Charles Nola Welch who preceded her in death in 1976. She was also preceded in death by her second husband, Milton Stroffregen in 1982.
Mickey was a successful owner of many businesses over the years, including Welch Oil & Gas, Welch Music, Commercial Office Equipment, and Classic Rope, among others. She was also a business associate of Mister Bee Potato Chips. As a business leader she was a preeminent example for many women that enter the business world, particularly those in male dominated fields. As a result, in 1987 she was awarded the Trailblazer W.E.A.L.T.H. award by the YWCA of Parkersburg and the Altrusa Club. In the ‘80s she became the first woman in WV to drill an oil well. She remained active in her oil and gas businesses for many years, retiring in 2014.
Mickey belonged to several organizations over the years and was a passionate supporter of numerous community non-profits, serving on several boards of those organizations during her lifetime. A partial list of Board service includes Camden Clark Hospital, SW Resources, YWCA, the Art Center, and the Oil, Gas, and Industrial Historical Association Museum. Organizations she belonged to or actively supported include Lambda Chi Omega, Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, Parkesburg Art Center, Boys & Girls Club, American Cancer Society, Chamber of Commerce, Moose Club, IOGA, YMCA, Rotary Club, 4-H Clubs, West Virginia University Foundation, WVU-P Foundation, Girl Scouts, Artsbridge, Parkersburg High School Athletics and Art Programs, Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, United Way, VFW 1212 and Mickey’s House in Charleston, South Carolina.
She had a heart for helping those less fortunate, particularly “the kids.” She was a major supporter and sponsor of the Montessori School at the Parkersburg YWCA . In 2017, through the Project H.O.M.E. organization she became the major sponsor of Mickey’s House, a facility supporting homeless students in Charleston, SC. Although Mickey was an active volunteer and financial donor she never did any of these things for the recognition. Nonetheless, she was the recipient of numerous awards including a Golden Hammer Award in 2017 for sponsoring a home for Habitat; the first Philanthropist of the Year award winner given by the WVU-P Foundation in 2019, a Fraternal Order of Police Award, an Honoree Rotarian Award, and was recently recognized by SW Resources for her support and dedication over the years.
When she passed away in August 2019, her family and friends were devastated. Wood County mourned the loss of one of its strongest champions. But Mickey had one more gift waiting. Like the trailblazer she was in life—the first woman in West Virginia to drill an oil well—and with the spirit of compassion that was her hallmark, she once again stepped up to care for others.
This time, Mickey set a new record, blazing a trail for future generations, with the single largest gift ever made to the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) in its 57-year history. Her $15 million bequest endows the Mary M. Welch Advised Fund of PACF, a permanent charitable fund to forever benefit the Parkersburg area with emphasis on those causes of keen interest to Mickey during her own lifetime.
Her daughter, Mary Anne Ketelsen, Fund Adviser to PACF said, "My mother loved her community; it was part of her family. She cared about improving life here for those most vulnerable—children, youth, special needs individuals, and animals. She liked helping organizations that help people to help themselves and that enable families to build a better life. Mother gave to so many different worthy causes. She chose to place her major legacy gift with the PACF because in working with the Foundation for many years, she saw that they, too, worked with a variety of groups, and did so fairly and impartially. PACF is at the forefront of many good things here. She felt she could trust them to manage the gift she planned to leave for our community's benefit. She knew they would help seek out the best and most appropriate ways to use her gift far into the future."
Cynthia Brown, PACF Board of Directors Chairperson at the time, said, "We're humbled by the magnitude of the trust that a gift of this size places in the PACF. Our Board is deeply honored to have been chosen by Mrs. Welch to receive such a wonderful gift that will help so many people in the coming years."
Mickey's long-time friend and business advisor, Robin Baylous, CPA, said, "Mickey was a great friend; a deeply caring and generous person. She was also a very savvy businesswoman. She saw the PACF as forward thinking and well-managed; she liked the fact that needs and times will change but the PACF will still be here."
Mickey gave as she did during her lifetime, selflessly. She placed her major legacy gift alongside those of others locally, large and small, all working together to build a stronger foundation for the Mid-Ohio Valley. Judy Sjostedt Ritchie, PACF's Executive Director since 1999, said the PACF will honor Mickey's giving traditions through this fund. She explained, "It's important for those seeking resources to know that we will manage requests using PACF's existing grants processes."
Sjostedt Ritchie added, "A gift like this is transformational for PACF; it will propel us forward. Mickey supported so many important causes during her lifetime. Now, in partnership with PACF, with her daughter's guidance, Mickey's Fund will still be caring for the things that mattered to her far into the future, well past our lifetimes. Amidst a difficult year for so many, Mickey's tremendous gift brings us all cause for hope for a brighter tomorrow. We are proud to serve as her steward and so grateful to Mickey for her remarkable gift for our community."