In Memoriam

In memoriam: William Henry Welch Jr.

Connor O'Hara
Dec. 27, 2021

William Henry Welch Jr., an emeritus faculty member at the University of Nevada–Reno, died in hospice June 3 of Parkinson’s disease and cancer. He was 80.

Welch, known to friends as Bill, was born in 1940 in Hollywood, California, to William Henry Sr. and Lola Ellsworth Welch. The family moved to Altadena, where Welch spent years enjoying the beauty of nature and the surrounding parks, as well as the Pacific surf.

William Henry Welch Jr.

He attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his bachelor’s in biochemistry and met his future wife, Marcy Delaney.  After graduation, Welch headed to the University of Kansas to earn his Ph.D. He and Marcy wed in 1965. The couple next moved with their son William III to Boston for Welch’s postdoctoral fellowship at Brandeis University.

Welch later was offered a tenure-track professorship in the University of Nevada–Reno’s biochemistry department, which he took. At Reno, he conducted decades of research and served as a biochemistry adviser in the School of Medicine’s National Institute of Health–sponsored undergraduate research program. 

Welch is most noted for his use of computational techniques to study the molecular basis for the interaction of ryanoids with ryanodine receptors and their related biological function.  His molecular modeling aided in efforts beyond this system to evaluate the structural–functional relationship of other proteins, such as hormones and enzymes, including those found in the Mojave rattlesnake venom.

His family obituary said that Welch had a sincere love for the beauty of the natural world and often took his family on trips in the car or RV to national parks.  He served as a skiing coach at the Sky Tavern just outside Reno and educated others as a member of the West Truckee Meadows Citizens Advisory Board, during which time he advocated for the development of West Reno to conserve and preserve access to those public lands.

He is survived by his wife, Marcy; children Bill, Deborah, Emily and Gregory; grandsons Colin, Gabriel and Tristan; and his brother David.

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Connor O'Hara

Connor O’Hara is a graduate student in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the School of Pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University. Outside of his research, he enjoys a tall pint at his local pub and the company of good friends. 

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