GARDNER — Kermit K. Welch, 83, of Gardner, passed away at Olathe Medical Center just before midnight on March 31, after a brief illness. Celebration of Life will be held 11 a.m. Thursday, at First Presbyterian Church, 138 E Shawnee, Gardner. Visitation 4-7 p.m Wednesday, April 4, at Bruce Funeral Home, 106 S. Center, Gardner, Kan., 66030 913-856-7111. In lieu of flowers, family suggests donations to the First Presbyterian Church or the charity of your choice. Condolences may be left at www.brucefuneralhome.com
Kermit was born April 13, 1934 in Great Bend, Kansas, the third child and second son of Clarence and Ethel Irene (Unruh) Welch. The family lived in various towns in central and western Kansas but Kermit ultimately graduated from Hays High School in 1952. He married Carol A Smith on December 28, 1957, having met on a blind date. He served his country for two years in the U.S. Army in peacetime in the 1950s and later earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas. He accepted a teaching position prompting a move to Gardner in 1961. Kermit taught high school math in the same classroom for 32 years, walking across the street to the school from his home on Mulberry Street and retiring in 1993. One of his greatest legacies was starting the girls’ and boys’ tennis programs at GEHS. He was a member of the GEHS Athletic Hall of Fame, the Kansas Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame and was a two-time Kansas Tennis Coach of the Year. He took up golf later in life along with Carol. He was a passionate fan of KU basketball and a loyal follower of the Brooklyn (later Los Angeles) Dodgers since 1947. He served as an elder at Gardner First Presbyterian Church, among many other roles and later in life remained active as a part-time bookkeeper for the church. His honesty, intelligence, compassion, integrity and work ethic were obvious to all who knew him. His sense of humor is best exemplified by the many “Kerm Welch-isms”, some of which have reached near legendary status.
Kermit was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Carol, his brother Jerome “Jerry” Welch and his sister Joyce England. He is survived by his children, Julie Highfill of Gardner, Mark Welch of Gardner, and Paul “Dean” and Kala Welch of Overland Park; grandchildren David Highfill Jr (Allison) of Leawood, Ryan Highfill (Becca) of Overland Park, Jared Highfill and Lauren Highfill of Gardner, Alexandra Welch of Merriam, and Samuel and Abigail Welch, both of Overland Park; one brother, Lauren Welch of Wichita, and one great-grandson, Griffin Highfill whom Kermit was blessed to see arrive just 5 months before his passing.