The Dart: Life experiences lead Welch to Miss-Lou to work, stay

Published 11:21 pm Sunday, June 24, 2007

VIDALIA —Saturday afternoon was quiet, and Mike Welch was doing what most of Myrtle Street’s residents were doing — relaxing.

Welch, a retiree, said he had to slow down after having spinal surgery — he lost 89 pounds during recovery — but he still enjoys hunting and fishing in the Deer Park area, where he lived until about three years ago, he said.

Born and raised in Missouri, Welch came to the area in 1978 to work for his father.

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In 1980, he went out on his own as a soybean farmer, working a 640-acre bean farm.

By 1984, however, Welch was ready to sell out and find other work.

By his account, he became a jack-of-all-trades.

“I did roofing, air-conditioning work, I was a mechanic and I worked at International Paper for a while,” he said.

Among the other work he did, Welch helped construct the second bridge across the Mississippi River from Vidalia to Natchez.

He did steel and concrete work, as well as erecting the sides, he said.

One of the significant moments in his life came when he met a woman named Dominica by chance in a chat room one Thursday night.

“She was born and raised in New Orleans, but her step-father lived up here and she was going to come and visit him,” Welch said.

They e-mailed back and forth, and that Saturday they met.

They have been married for about three years, he said.