Cover photo for Norvel Welch's Obituary
Norvel Welch Profile Photo
1930 Norvel 2021

Norvel Welch

August 22, 1930 — April 24, 2021


Norvel Welch of Benbrook, Texas, died on April 24, 2021, at the age of 90, of heart failure.

Per his own request, a funeral service was not held due to the pandemic. Norvel was buried in a private family ceremony in Cresson Cemetery in Godley, Texas.

In remembrance of Norvel Welch’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to The Women’s Center, 1723 Hemphill St, Fort Worth, Texas 76110,

Norvel was born on August 22, 1930, to Dewitt and Claudie Lavada Johnson Welch in Brownwood, Texas. He and his three brothers and three sisters grew up on farms around Brownwood and Bangs, where his father was a sharecropper. Norvel graduated from May High School.

Norvel attended Howard Payne University, where he earned the Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration, History and Secondary Education. More importantly, at Howard Payne University he met Hattie Grace Leach, whom he married in 1951. Together they eventually had four children.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954, being stationed in Baltimore, Maryland. Following his military service, he went on to earn the Master of Education degree from Howard Payne University in 1955 and the Master of Religious Education degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1957.  From 1955 to 1963 he served as minister of education and/or minister of music at churches in 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 years in Brazil, Norvel served in many capacities within local churches, as well as within state and national Baptist organizations. He was director of religious education at First Baptist Church, Niterói from 1964 to 1970.

In 2013, at age 83, Norvel returned to Brazil at the invitation of the church of Vital Brazil and preached many sermons in fluent Portuguese after having been away from Brazil for nearly 30 years.

Norvel was known and respected as a thoughtful voice of reason and moderation who, though quiet by nature, was not afraid to take unpopular positions when confronted with injustice, intolerance, or extremism.

Norvel was a generous man who never aspired to wealth; rather, he considered himself the richest of men, having as his greatest treasure his wife and family, whom he loved deeply and who loved and cared deeply for him.

In the 1970s and 80s he pastored various churches in the Niteroi and Rio area, including at Itaipu, Vital Brazil, and Caramujo.

He worked for many years as Director of Religious Education and Director of Stewardship for the state of Rio de Janeiro, and as Director of the National Sunday School Department of the Brazilian Baptist Publishing House (JUERP), where he also authored and edited many of the Bible lessons used by teens, youth, and adults in churches throughout the country. In his various roles over the years, he traveled extensively throughout Brazil training pastors and teachers.

Upon their return to the U.S. in 1982, Norvel and Hattie moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he served as Associate Pastor and Minister of Education at Olivet Baptist Church from 1983 to 1988, and as Pastor of Parkview Baptist Church from 1988 to 1995.

When Norvel retired in 1995, they moved back to Texas to be close to their family. In retirement he continued teaching and serving in churches as a layman, most recently at Agape Baptist Church in Fort Worth.

Norvel volunteered as a driver for Meals on Wheels, and as an instructor for English as a Second Language (ESL). He was a committed supporter of Carter BloodCare, donating more than 15 gallons of blood over his lifetime. He was a passionate golfer and gardener, and enjoyed working with his hands, whether building a gazebo, or doing woodworking or silk-screening. In retirement Norvel also enjoyed taking long trips, making his way around England, Sweden, and Canada.

Norvel was preceded in death by his son, Donald Wayne Welch; his parents, Dewitt, and Claudie Welch; sister, Anne Rhoades; and brothers, Dewitt, and Billy Welch.

Norvel is survived by his wife of 70 years, Hattie Grace Welch; daughter, Deb Welch of Benbrook, Texas, daughter, Libby Parker and husband, James of Fort Worth, Texas; 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; brother, Carroll (Barbara) Welch; sisters, Dorothy Kite and Lessie (Frank) Briggs; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Norvel Welch, please visit our flower store.


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