Services for Dr. Welby C. Edwards, 98, of Tyler will be on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church, Tyler, with the Rev. Pike Wisner, Dr. Paul W. Powell and Dr. Dub Oliver officiating.
Burial will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery in Tyler under direction of Stewart Family Funeral Home.
Mr. Edwards passed away Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, at home. He was born Dec. 9, 1914, to Clell and Lily Deed Smith Edwards.
Welby began his business career as a senior at Tyler High School in 1933, graduating in 1934 and was in business in Tyler for 80 years. He was a participant in the first Rose Festival in 1933.
He entered Federal Business Institute, graduating in 1938 with a certificate in accounting. He then had the opportunity to attend Tyler Junior College night classes and accounting courses from La Salle Accounting Institute that eventually led to his interview with GM where Mr. Edwards began traveling as an auditor in East Texas and North Louisiana for General Motors
. The experience with GM in the parts department led him to the auto and truck parts field and later as office manager for Welch Auto Supply in Tyler. In 1941, Mr. Edwards went to work for Lockheed Aircraft Manufacturing and Modification Center as purchasing agent at Love Field in Dallas, delivering planes to the Air Force Air Transport command, classified in top secret operations. He volunteered to join the Air Transport Command of the U.S. Army
Air Corps in 1943 to be assigned to modify B-25s and other planes in Kansas City, Mo., and deliver them to combat areas in the European and Pacific theater. Welby was classified as a 791 Air Operations specialist staff sergeant and served in combat air traffic control. He was an officer with a four-man crew in the Pacific with the Far East Air Force. He also served as flight engineer on B-25s. He was discharged from Camp Fannin on Nov. 16, 1945, receiving the Philipino Liberation Medal, three Battle Stars, one Bronze Star
, and 35 cents bus fare to Tyler to meet his family.
Mr. Edwards entered business as Edwards and Associates in the Peoples Bank building, as a manufacturers' representative in 1946, serving six states. He was founder of A&B Brake and Alignment in 1946, which he then sold in 1950, and then established WC Supply Co. in 1959, which was later sold in 2001.
Welby was president of WC Square shopping center, located at Front and Bonner streets, where his office, WC Edwards Co., was located, dealing in investments and oil interests. W.C. purchased the shopping center in January 1966, from Cecil McCullars and D.K. Caldwell Investments and changed the name to WC Square, refurbished it, and immediately had 100 percent occupancy. In 1977, he purchased additional land and doubled the original size of the center with new construction. He also purchased adjacent property and commercial buildings bordering WC Square, which included 613 W. Front St., 320 and 321 S. Vine Ave. and 501 W. Front St.
Welby was a charter member of the Radio Bible Class in 1935 and deacon of First Baptist Church for 50 years. He was an East Texas Baptist University trustee, where he and Davida funded the creation of the School of Nursing in 1989. In 2001 he was presented an honorary Doctor of Humanities from East Texas Baptist University. He was chairman of Timberline Baptist Conference Center and Camp, president and board member of East Texas State Fair and East Texas Farm and Ranch Club. He was also past commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
Post No. 1779 for two years, and past Texas State Chaplain for Disabled American Veterans for two years. He was a member of the National Society of American Inventors and in 1988 was selected "Heavy Duty Professional of the Year" for the United States by the National Automotive Service Industry Association and in 1989 served as president of the Suspension Specialist Association of North America. Welby always said, "If I am considered a success in business or life, my wife, Davida, with love and devotion, was the prime factor." In 1979, he was an organizing director of Rose Capital Bank (now Regions Bank-South Loop).
Welby was a family man and his hobbies included working, traveling, hunting, fishing and golf.
Mr. Edwards was a member of many organizations. He was founder of the East Texas Saddle Club in 1959. In the 1960s, he was president of the East Texas Hereford Breeders and 1969-1970 president of the East Texas State Fair. He was a Mason for more than 60 years and member of St. Johns Masonic Lodge. Welby was one of three founders of Meals on Wheels Ministry in 1973, now celebrating its 40th anniversary. He was a life member of the Historical Aviation Memorial Museum. He was also a member of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra Association, the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce and Hollytree Country Club.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his loving wife of 48 years, Davida M. Edwards; his two sisters, Vivian Edwards McNeill and husband Dr. H.B. NcNeill and Veo Edwards Mallard and husband A.R. Mallard.
He is survived by his loving family including son, D.M. Edwards; daughter, D'Ann Edwards Stripling and her husband Rick; grandson, Travis Stripling and his wife Sheila; great-grandson Spencer Stripling; wife, Sue Edwards; stepson, Donald Dudley and his daughter Elizabeth; stepdaughter, Amy Lampin and her husband Kevin and their son Wesley; as well as several nephews, nieces and cousins.
Pallbearers will be Travis Stripling, Dennis Noble, Jim L. Crow, Charles Conklin, James Finch and Bob Hodges.
Honorary pallbearers will be deacons of First Baptist Church and members of the Radio Bible Class of First Baptist Church.
Visitation is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, at Stewart Family Funeral Home, 7525 Old Jacksonville Highway, in Tyler.
If desired, memorials may be made to the Edwards Endowed Nursing Scholarship at East Texas Baptist University, One Tiger Drive, Marshall, 75670; First Baptist Church of Tyler Building Fund, 301 W. Ferguson St., Tyler, 75702; East Tex-as Symphony Orchestra Association, 107 E. Erwin St., Tyler, 75701.