Promoted to Glory: Major Steve Welch

Major Steve Welch was Promoted To Glory on January 14, 2024, just four days short of his 70th birthday. 

Steven Dale Welch was born on January 18, 1954, to Salvation Army parents Majors Jeffery and Shirley Welch—one of five children to become Salvation Army officers in two territories. He grew up in several western Michigan and northern Indiana cities, and graduated from North Side High School in Fort Wayne, IN. 

Upon completing a Bachelor of Music Education program at Indiana University, Steve met his bride-to-be, Mary Johnson, at the Southern Territorial Music Institute held at Camp Keystone in Florida. 

Steve and Mary were married at The Salvation Army corps in Melbourne, FL on January 7, 1978. They entered the training college in Atlanta that fall, as members of the Proclaimers of Salvation session of cadets. They were commissioned in 1980 by General Arnold Brown at the National Congress in Kansas City. 

Majors Welch held appointments in Jacksonville and Orange Park, FL; Shawnee, OK; Gainesville, Sebring, Pensacola, and Key West, FL; Meridian, MS; Selma, AL; and Vicksburg, MS—their final appointment before honored retirement in 2020. 

They made their retirement home in Lakeland, FL, where Major Steve remained an active bandsman and songster until his health deteriorated. 

Major Steve was an artist, Rotarian, and an Order of the Arrow Boy Scout. He was an active band member, composer, and humble teacher to many students. He served in the Buglers Across America and in divisional bands in four divisions of two territories. He also played in community bands in every city he called home. 

Major Steve Welch is survived by his wife of 46 years, Major Mary Welch; two daughters, Captain Rebekah (Major Phil) Swyers, and Major Bethany (Tim) Delaney; one son, Captain Christopher (Jessica) Welch; as well as four siblings: Major Keith (Sherrie) Welch, Major Jonathan (Kim) Welch, Major Valerie (Jim) McDowell, and Glenn (Sarah) Welch. He also leaves ten grandchildren—with his first great-grandchild expected in March. 

A Celebration of Life service will be conducted on January 20, 2024, at the Lakeland Corps. 

—Major Frank Duracher