r The Bible tells us “We drink from wells we did not dig” and “we are warmed by fires we did not kindle” as a way to acknowledge people who have enriched others’ lives.
When it comes to Orem, Utah, Stella Welsh is one of those diggers and kindlers—and she has been digging those wells and warming those fires for a long time.
It should surprise no one, then, that the 86-year-old former mayor of Orem is being honored with SCERA’s 2016 Founders Day Award as a reflection of her abundant contributions to life in Utah.
The day commemorates July 19, 1919, the date Orem was founded, and the Orem Heritage Museum at SCERA annually honors exemplary citizens who have made outstanding contributions to the city. Welsh will be honored July 30 (Saturday) at 10:30 a.m. at the SCERA Center for the Arts. The public is invited. There will be light refreshments, a short program and an opportunity to tour the Orem Heritage Museum.
“You would be hard pressed to find anyone more deserving of this honor than Stella Welsh,” says Adam J. Robertson, SCERA’s President and CEO. “If you were to name someone Mrs. Orem, Stella’s name certainly would rise to the top.”
Whenever Welsh visits the Nielsen Park in Provo Canyon, or the skate park on 1200 West, she can take pride in her role for rallying the votes for land acquisitions and protective zoning. And as someone who has attended the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival every September, she can smile as she remembers her role in helping move the nationally-recognized event from a neighborhood back yard to the 44-acre Mt. Timpanogos Park nestled near the mouth of the canyon.
In her six-year tenure as Orem’s mayor and eight as a member of the city council, Welsh helped Habitat for Humanity obtain the land for the first house in Utah County, and her commitment extended to five years as chairwoman for Humanity of Utah County as well as sitting on its building committee for several more years. During her tenure 22 Habitat homes were built.
A tour around the city reflects her many accomplishments. She helped bring Timpanogos Regional Hospital to the area, and she became an active advocate of community parks. As a progressive leader, she encountered occasional resistance for such projections as the expansion of the shopping district at 1200 South, expensive road building and a substantial revamping of the senior citizen center. But she prevailed, and the region is the better for it.
She has been quoted as saying, “Sometimes it was a battle, but you have to do what is best for the community.” What likely helped her was her fearlessness and her ability to remain largely neutral, bowing to neither Republican or Democratic initiatives on the virtue of politics. It also helps that she possesses an extraordinary ability to deal with people added to a generous heart.
She is credited with serving citizens along the generations whether that meant providing a van for senior citizens who no longer drove, providing drug and abuse centers, finding a way to provide early education for children with handicaps and resources for parents.
The mother of eight has remained active, serving on multiple community councils, including Timpanogos Regional Hospital board, Kids on the Move Board, and the Community Action board.
“Stella Welsh, truly a woman for all seasons, has our profound gratitude, and we are so pleased to honor her,” Robertson adds.