Leland "Gene" Welker, 84, of Bemidji, Minnesota, died on Monday, January 10, 2011, at North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji.
Leland Eugene Welker was born on December 5, 1926, in Monmouth to Harley "Chip" Welker and Christena (Rumschlag) Welker. His mother died when he was an infant and he was raised by an uncle and an aunt, Frank and Rose Loshe.
He grew up and attended school in Decatur.
During World War II, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and served in the Pacific Theater. He was also a veteran of the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War. His military career span was a total of 31 1/2 years as he served in the Army Air Corps, Air Force, Air Force Reserves, and Indiana Air National Guard before retiring as a senior master sergeant.
He received an associate degree from Denver University, a bachelor of science degree in education from Bemidji State University, and a masters in education degree from the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne.
He taught school in Adams County for 15 years and also taught drivers education for several years and was an assistant swimming coach at Bellmont.
In 1987, he and his wife Beverly (Douglas) Welker retired to Bemidji, where he enjoyed reading, birdwatching, and gardening.
He is survived by his wife, Beverly Welker, of Bemidji; three daughters, Denise (Mel) Wiemer of Indiana, Lynette Welker of Minnesota, and Jolene (Terry) Tarvin of Minnesota; two sons, Danny (Patti) Franks of California and Terry Franks of New Mexico; two granddaughters, Katie Wiemer of Indiana and Tasha Tarvin of Minnesota; two sisters, Irene Hamrick of Decatur and Joan Custer of Ohio; one brother, Herb Welker of Florida; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Leland was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Craig Welker; a brother, Gordon Welker; three foster sisters, Dorothy Loshe, Helen Heimann, and Frances Koors; and a foster brother, Ralph Loshe.
Memorial visitation will be held Tuesday, January 18, 2011, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Haggard and Sefton Funeral Home in Decatur and noon-1 p.m. on Wednesday, January 19, 2011, followed by a 1 p.m. service.
Interment will be in Mt. Hope Cemetery of rural Berne, with military honors by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guards from Dayton, Ohio.