(May 26, 1927-Sept. 11, 1992). Robert V. Welch was born in Indianapolis and graduated from Cathedral High School and the University of Notre Dame. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and with the Army during the Korean conflict. He married Carolyn Finn in 1957; the couple had three children.

In 1952, Welch joined a construction firm to learn the business and, in 1954, cofounded Baker, McHenry, and Welch, mechanical contractors. Later, R. V. Welch Investments, Inc., emerged as a development, construction, and investment business—building over 10,000 homes and apartments, as well as shopping centers, office complexes, and small manufacturing facilities. Welch also founded the Fidelity and Landmark banks, published the Indianapolis Commercial, and occasionally operated restaurants.

These business ventures were conducted on an ambitious scale, often in volatile circumstances. Consequently, over four decades, Welch made and lost millions of dollars. Nevertheless, he simultaneously plunged into civic life, frequently tackling major projects that common wisdom deemed impossible. When the Holy Cross brothers decided to close Cathedral High School in 1972, Welch formed a lay board that raised funds to keep the school open. He was influential in opening the school to girls and relocating it to a spacious campus.

After losing the mayoral election in 1975 to William H. Hudnut Iii, Welch crusaded to bring the National Football League to Indianapolis. He campaigned to build the Hoosier Dome and lobbied NFL team owners to grant Indianapolis an expansion team, which he proposed to own. That hope vanished in 1984 when the Baltimore Colts suddenly moved to Indianapolis (See Indianapolis Colts).

In 1991, Governor Evan Bayh named Welch executive director of the White River State Park Commission, with a mandate to revitalize its ebbing planning process. Welch involved key community leaders in his vision, persuading three of them (Michael A. Carroll, Frank E. Mckinney Jr, and John R. Weliever) to fly with him to a floral exposition in Ohio for inspiration. All four men died following a midair collision shortly after takeoff.

Revised March 2021

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