October 10, 2004

Frank Welch, an early member of Long Island NOW, and husband of VFA board member, Grace Ripa Welch, died October 10th in St. Catherine's Hospital, Smithtown, Long Island, NY.

A native of Anderson , South Carolina , Frank moved to New York to work for the Ford Instrument Company war plant in Long Island City prior to World War II. He was drafted and served in the U.S. Navy as Ships Company Photographer, Camp Peary, Virginia until war's end, when he started his own commercial photography studio in Sunnyside, Queens. He sold his studio after five years and joined Brookhaven National Laboratories, Long Island as a Photo-Technician, from which he retired in 1981.

On Frank's first Saturday in New York he met 16 year old Grace Ripa on a blind date. They wed in 1946 and were married for 58 years, having known each other 64 years!

Frank and Grace were conveners of the South Shore Chapter of NOW, Bay Shore in 1973. When Grace became president of South Shore NOW, Frank co-chaired the Masculine Mystique Committee with Chris Golder, and facilitated the Island's first Co-Ed Consciousness Raising groups. He also served for a time as chapter treasurer, and assisted in the production and distribution of the monthly Newsletter. In addition, Frank attended many NOW conferences, including the famous Houston conference of 1977.

In 1993, Frank suffered a stroke (CVA left), but he never lost his power of speech nor his sense of humor, and continued accompanying Grace to NOW conventions in his motorized wheelchair, most recently the July 2004 LasVegas National Conference at The Riviera Hotel, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Frank often had to dodge the resentment of newly awakened feminists, who directed their anger against the patriarchal system to him --remember those days? -- he took it all with patience and good humor, and was much loved by Long Island NOW members.

Frank is survived by Grace and their three children, Michael Ripa Welch of Brooklyn, Jean Welch Tobin of Fairfield, Iowa and Lisa Welch Hair and her husband, Tom of Bayport, L.I., and two granddaughters, Kimberly Grace and Leanna Marie.

You may read more about Frank in THE MEN OF VFA section on the VFA webpage, and give any donations in his honor to VFA c/o the Frank Welch Fund.


Grace Welch