Frank W. Welsh

Age 76 The congressional aide headed the Baltimore County Department of Community Development.

Mr. Welsh "used his gifts as a salesman in all of his activities in the community," a colleague said.

August 13, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun Reporter

Frank W. Welsh, a one-time aide to former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley who went on to serve as director of the Baltimore County Department of Community Development, died Saturday of kidney failure at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. He was 76.

Mr. Welsh was born in Baltimore and raised in Govans. He was a 1950 graduate of City College, where he had been drum major in the school's marching band.

An accomplished musician, Mr. Welsh played the clarinet and saxophone.

"He also formed an 11-piece swing band - Frank Welsh's Orchestra - and played at dances around Baltimore in the 1950s," said his wife of 48 years, the former Regina Holter.

Mr. Welsh attended the University of Maryland and Loyola College, and worked as a salesman for the Dryden Oil Co.

After joining the Greater Towson Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1962, he served as its president from 1964 to 1965. As president of the Maryland Jaycees in 1966, he oversaw the Junior Chamber of Commerce national convention that was held in Baltimore the next year.

"Frank and I have been Jaycees for more than 40 years, and he was an excellent leader and model Jaycee," said Tom Toporovich, former secretary to the Baltimore County Council and Dundalk community leader. "He was a warm and voluble person who used his gifts as a salesman in all of his activities in the community."

Mr. Welsh's work with the Jaycees brought him to the attention of then-Gov. Spiro T. Agnew, a Republican who appointed him deputy director of the state Office of Economic Opportunity in 1968, the same year that Mr. Agnew was elected vice president.

In 1970, Democratic Gov. Marvin Mandel appointed Mr. Welsh as director of the OEO, a position he held until retiring from state government in 1984.

From 1985 until 1990, he was Mrs. Bentley's first district director in the Republican congresswoman's Towson office.

"We go back a long way. Frank was very hardworking, perceptive and had a good political mind," Mrs. Bentley said. "And he was always chewing on a damn cigar and usually had a big smile on his face."

She added: "He worked hard and well with the staff and during campaigns, didn't mind doing the dirtiest or fanciest of work, from planting signs on lawns or administrative work."

From 1990 to 1994, he served as director of the Baltimore County Department of Community Development during the administration of County Executive Roger B. Hayden.

"Frank was a team player with his people and wanted to make things happen. He was always positive about his work and getting it done," Mr. Hayden said yesterday.

Gene L. Kibbe Jr., a former Baltimore County Republican councilman, said the two were friends for more than 50 years.

"He was one of the most honest bureaucrats - which is a word that comes hard for me - because I really don't like bureaucrats," Mr. Kibbe said. "Frank never had an agenda and did what he was supposed to do, and did it very well."

He added: "He was a great guy and a wonderful person to know."

The longtime Ednor Gardens resident was elected to the Republican State Central Committee in 1994 and continued serving on the committee until last year.

Proud of his Scottish heritage, Mr. Welsh was an active member of the St. Andrew's Society.

"He will be buried in his Wallace clan kilt, and bagpipers will be pipe him into the cemetery to 'Amazing Grace.' That's what he wanted," Mrs. Welsh said.

He enjoyed keeping up with politics and playing his electric organ.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Mitchell Wiedefeld Funeral Home, 6500 York Road in Rodgers Forge.

Also surviving are a brother, John A. Welsh of Fernandina Beach, Fla.; a sister, Carrie Mae Lehman of Zellwood, Fla.; and many nieces and nephews.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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