In Memoriam: John Welchli Olympic Great

John Welchli 1929-2018

John R. Welchli, age 89, of Grosse Pointe Farms, passed away on Friday, March 23, 2018 at his home. Mr. Welchli was born in Bay City, on Wednesday, March 6, 1929 to Russell and Dorothy Welchli.

Mr. Welchli was known to be bright, accomplished in many areas in life, but most of respected by his family and friends. Mr. Welchli’s success started early in life at the distinguished Brown University where he completed his undergraduate work. Followed by completing his MBA at the The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1952.

As an undergraduate, John Welchli was a swimmer, ran track for four years, and captained the cross-country team. It was a skiing accident that led him to rowing. While recuperating from a knee injury, he used the locker room facilities of the Detroit Boat Club and did his running on the nearby bridle paths. Walter Hoover, the venerable rowing coach at the Club, talked to Welchli about switching sports and the Brown graduate has been pulling his own oar ever since. After two years of military service, Welchli resumed rowing in 1954 and in just two years became a member of the Olympic rowing team. This was the most successful group ever boated by the United States, winning six medals in seven events. Perhaps the key to John’s success is his versatility. He is one of the few men ever to achieve success in both sculling and sweep rowing as a heavyweight (which he is not) and as a lightweight.

Mr. Welchli was a member of Brown’s distinguished list of alumni who have participated in the Olympics. He was a member of the United States team that took a Silver Medal in the Men’s 4+ at the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia along with DBCC teammates James McIntosh and identical twin brothers John McKinlay and Art McKinlay. Welchli was also involved in 32 U.S. National and Canadian Henley National championships in sculling and sweep rowing in the heavy and lightweight categories between the years of 1955-64.

For many years he held the National record (2000 meters) in the lightweight single and double, and the Canadian Henley in the lightweight singles. Mr. Welchli has rowed in the veteran’s categories at Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston and managed the fastest elapsed time on several occasions, including 1978. He took first place (age 45-51) in the Singles and in the 50-and-Over bracket for four with coxswain at the First Annual Masters Rowing Championship in Craftsburg, Vermont.

Mr. Welchli also had a love for Golden Retrievers and was always seeking different field trial accomplishments with his dogs.

In his professional life, Mr. Welchli was the vice-president and treasurer of Securities Counsel, Inc., located in Jackson. Michigan. He was also the proud owner of the Investment Counsel as a Financial Advisor in Grosse Pointe for many years. He was a Member of the Detroit Boat Club, The Friends of Detroit Rowing, Golden Retrievers Club, and the Lions Club of Jackson, MI.

The family would also like to extend special thanks and gratitude to the caregiver team made up of Nicole Dickenson, Angie Stabile, Helen Head, Savannah Dippel and Amber Williams. Your kindness and love for Mr. Welchli will forever be remembered, and the family is truly grateful for the kindness and care you showed. John will certainly be missed.

Cherished husband of, Lynn. Loving father of Russell (Dee) and John (Victoria). Dear grandfather of Grant. Loving brother of, Robert Welchli.

The Welchli family will receive friends on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 from 3-8PM at the A.H. Peters Funeral Home, 20705 Mack Ave. at Vernier Rd., Grosse Pointe Woods, 48236. Funeral service will take place on Wednesday at 12:00 Noon at the funeral home. Additional visitation 11am-12 Noon on Wednesday prior to the service. Interment, Thursday, March 29, 2018 at Elm Lawn Cemetery, in Bay City, MI.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions are appreciated to Beaumont Hospice, Beaumont Health Foundation, PO Box 5802, Troy, MI 48007-5802 or The Friends of Detroit Rowing, 27551 Rackham Drive, Lathrup Village, MI 48076