Saying goodbye to another county icon

Published 9:11am Monday, March 10, 2014

It seems as though I’ve written far too many of one type of column in the past few years. Unfortunately this is one of those columns – a remembrance of someone who touched the lives of many in our local area.

Thursday afternoon the people of the Elmore County community and beyond lost another respected and beloved citizen, Truman Welch.

In this issue I’ve written about the many accomplishments and talents of that memorable man, but here I will simply share my personal recollections of him.

I was not a band student, but a number of my friends were involved in what was then “Big Blue.”

Looking back, I guess those in band started on that path in fifth or sixth grade while we were still inmates of the no-man’s-land of the fourth-sixth grade hall located between Hohenberg Memorial and Wetumpka High.

By the time we entered the doors of WHS as seventh-graders (yes, high school was grades 7-12), I had learned where the band room was situated and begun to hear stories of how in awe my fellow students stood of Mr. Welch.

Since a couple of my friends, who were typically unimpressed by anyone, seemed to be uncharacteristically well-behaved in his presence, I inferred one should be more than normally circumspect when he was around.

In retrospect that was silly on my part since two of my favorite instructors (math and gymnastics) were widely regarded as stern but fair disciplinarians, just like Mr. Welch.

But, I digress.

Like the majority of students at both Wetumpka High and Elmore County High, I went through those six years with a thorough enjoyment of every band performance and a sense of pride in the recognition my hard-working fellow students received for their efforts.

Fast forward about 20 years and for the first time I really got to know Mr. Truman and talk to him as an adult. By that time his son Milton was directing the WHS band and Mr. Truman occasionally helped out with beginner band students.

All my children were musical (taking after Larry’s side of the family, believe me) and they all loved Mr. Truman. He was kind and patient with those budding young musicians.

As band parents we were at every concert and every game – home and away – and Mr. Truman was at many of those as well.

I am glad we became friends with him over the course of those years.

He was always interested in what people were doing. I don’t think he forgot anyone’s name or their children’s names, and he seemed to have a facility for keeping track of what he had last heard in regard to all kinds of folks.

Several years ago I can remember Mr. Truman going through some serious health issues, but he appeared to bounce back better than most people half his age would have done.

It didn’t seem to be too long before I would again run into him during breakfast or lunch at local restaurants – usually with Milton. He was always ready to talk to anyone he knew and reminisce for a few minutes or share a joke or two.

I know there is a veritable army of people whose lives he touched to lesser and greater degrees. And I also know they have stories to tell and memories to revive of what he meant to them.

Until next week … and bless your hearts.

 

Peggy Blackburn is managing editor of The Wetumpka Her­ald and Elmore County Weekend. She can be reached at 334-567-7811. Her email address is peggy.blackburn@TheWetumpkaHerald.com.

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