Raymond James Welder, Jr. passed away at the age of 86 on Monday, November 23, 2020.
The third child and only son of Mary Amelia McCurdy and Raymond James Welder, Sr., Raymond was born June 28, 1934 in Beeville, Texas. A fifth generation Texan and lifetime resident of Bee County, Raymond was tied to lands where his Welder forebearers, as well as his Wood family ancestors, settled. It was this Welder Ranch which instilled both strong bonds of friendship, such as the 55+ year association with the Antonio Gomez family, and a deep appreciation for the Spanish language. A fierce advocate for bilingual education and in keeping with family tradition, Raymond insisted on speaking only Spanish while on the ranch and always encouraged others to become fluent.
He graduated from A.C. Jones High School in 1951 and Texas A&M University (B.S., Geology) in 1955 as a proud member of the B Battery of the Corps of Cadets. He spent his early career working in oil and gas exploration for Union Producing Company but ultimately dedicated most of his time pursuing his passion as an active rancher.
He married the love of his life, Mary Heather Wren, on October 26, 1968, at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, and for the next 52 years proceeded to proudly introduce her (much to her chagrin and delight) as his young bride to anyone within earshot. Making their home on the R.J. Welder Ranch, Heather and Raymond raised their three children with the core values of self-reliance, good humor, and strong faith. A devout Roman Catholic and a lifetime parishioner of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Raymond took great joy in keeping the Church grounds and its cemetery tidy in his spare time.
His other great joys were family, history, and funerals. Admired and treasured by his seven grandchildren, “Ol’ Granddaddy” was the family’s cookie thief, nickname inventor, and captivating storyteller. His passion for history, local and international, stemmed from a voracious intellectual curiosity that often found him reading late into the night ensconced in his favorite leather chair. He constantly inspired others to delve into Texas history and was the catalyst for publishing the book, Empresario’s Children: The Welders in Texas, by Marjorie and Bill Walraven. He was also profiled in Seldom Heard: Ranchers, Ranchos & Rumors of the South Texas Brush Country by Dian Malouf. Perhaps it was this love of history that made him a consummate funeral attendee. As friends passed away, Raymond and his dear friend, the late Lon Cartwright, were local fixtures on the funeral circuit. The beloved pair of mischievous men were always willing on a moment’s notice to don dark suits and travel any distance to honor the deceased with collected remembrances. They also decided to find younger friends.
Raymond was a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Texas A & M Alumni Association, an Honorary Director of the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Beeville Country Club, The Argyle, and San Antonio Country Club. He also served on the board of St. Joseph’s Parish Council and the Bee County Appraisal Board.
He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Mary Elizabeth Welder Knight.
He is survived by his wife, Heather, three children, Raymond James Welder, III (Katharine), Christopher Clark Welder (Alice), and Mary Heather Welder Russo (David); and his seven grandchildren, Katharine Leigh Welder, Raymond James Welder, IV, Mary Claire Wren Welder, Lilly Angeline Welder, Alice Anita Welder, Lindsay Clark Welder, and Campbell Winter Russo. He is also survived by two sisters, Alice Louise Welder Hall and Josephine Welder Miller; his brother-in-law, Clark Campbell Wren, III; and nephews listed below and nieces Alice Louise Hall Box, Mary Catherine Miller, and Mary Gentry Wren Lowe.
Pallbearers will be Joseph Sydney Hall, John Raymond Hall, James Monte Hall, Patrick Welder Hall, Michael John Knight, George Hugh Miller, and T. Michael O’Connor.
Honorary Pallbearers will be Allan Penny Bloxsom III, Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., James Preston McCollom, Sr., Bevans Callan Welder, John James Welder, V, Roger Fleming Welder, Amos Glen Welder, III, Damien Wood Welder and Clark Campbell Wren, III.
A Rosary will be prayed at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 27, 2020, at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in San Antonio.
The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, November 28, 2020, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Beeville, Texas, followed by a graveside service at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Witte Museum, 3801 Broadway, San Antonio, Texas, 78209. www.wittemuseum.org
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