Hattie Welch of Benbrook, Texas, died on February 11, 2022, at the age of 89, of heart failure.
In remembrance of Hattie Welch’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to The Women’s Center, 1723 Hemphill St, Fort Worth, Texas 76110, https://www.womenscentertc.org/donate-online.
Hattie was born on January 7, 1933, to Milton S. Leach and Eunice Marie Barrett Leach in Pampa, Texas. Along with her two brothers and her sister, she grew up in and around the small towns of South-Central Texas, where her father pastored a number of small churches. Hattie began taking music lessons before she was old enough to go to school. As a teen, she and her sister Dorothy played piano, accordion, and portable organ for church services. Hattie graduated from Beeville High School.
Hattie attended Howard Payne University, where she studied Elementary Education. At Howard Payne University she met Norvel Wayne Welch, whom she married in 1951. Together they eventually had four children. Hattie always had music in her heart. She loved practicing, playing, and teaching piano, and making beautiful piano arrangements. Though she was accomplished at sight-reading, she preferred to play by ear, making her a wonderful accompanist for singers and instrumentalists.
From 1951 to 1963, in each place Hattie and Norvel lived and served across the United States, Hattie played piano in church. She was a church pianist in Brownwood, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Keller, Texas; Lewisburg, Tennessee; Baltimore, Maryland; and Grand Prairie, Texas. Norvel and Hattie were appointed as missionaries of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1963. They served as missionaries to Brazil for 19 years.
During their early years in Brazil, Hattie taught the children in English at home using the Calvert School curriculum, while they also went to a local Brazilian school. For many years, Hattie regularly played piano at First Baptist Church in Niterói, and later at the Baptist Church in Vital Brazil. Many of her hymn arrangements were published by the Brazilian Baptist Publishing House (JUERP). She was also a Sunday School teacher and director for years. She especially loved working with teenagers and youth. Upon their return to the U.S. in 1982, Norvel and Hattie moved to Wichita, Kansas, where they served at Olivet Baptist Church from 1983 to 1988, and Parkview Baptist Church from 1988 to 1995. When they retired in 1995, they moved back to Texas to be close to their family. Hattie continued playing in churches for years, most recently at Agape Baptist Church in Fort Worth.
Hattie was known for her quick wit and easy, joking manner. She was beloved by the young people she taught for her quirky humor that opened doors for her to ask deep questions, listen intentionally, and respond practically. Hattie loved life. Through the difficulties of aging, serious illness, and Norvel's death, she always found great joy in being alive.
Hattie was preceded in death by her husband, Norvel Wayne Welch; her son, Donald Wayne Welch; her parents, Milton S. Leach and Eunice Leach Bradshaw; and brother, Milton Leach Jr.
Hattie is survived by her daughter, Deb Welch of Benbrook, Texas; daughter, Libby Parker and husband, James of Fort Worth, Texas; and son, Larry Welch and wife, Graça of Niteroi, Brazil; daughter-in-law, Janet Welch; grandchildren, Luke (Krista) Welch, David (Tricia) Welch, Danny (Alexa) Welch, Robert (Paola) Welch, and Liz (Erick) Baker; 11 great-grandchildren; sister, Dorothy Salser; and brother, Chuck Leach; many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Hattie was buried in a private family ceremony in Cresson Cemetery in Godley, Texas.