OBITUARY

Lee Norman WELKLEY

July 16, 1941December 26, 2020

Described by some as a man with a “scholarly mind and a pastor’s heart,” Rev. Welkley passed away on December 26, 2020, as an inpatient at Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, in Jacksonville, following a three-month struggle with an “acute, extremely severe, medically complex” illness. Having begun his preaching career at the age of 14 years, Lee Welkley, as a high school senior, first pastored a small rural church 60 miles south of Rochester, NY. He was ordained to Christian ministry in the Penfield NY Advent Christian Church, on July 10, 1962. He is a graduate of Berkshire Christian College (1962), and also attended Aurora College, as well as two seminaries in Chicago.

Rev. Welkley’s ministry and community involvement touched countless lives as he served Advent Christian churches in Danbury & New Milford, CT; Chicago, IL; Waterville, ME; and most recently, New Life Community Church, in the Springfield area of Jacksonville, FL, from which he retired after 54 years of ministry. His insightfulness, compassion, and sensitivity to the disadvantaged and underserved urban populations has enhanced the impact of the organizations in which he also served in varying capacities, including: Board of Trustees (1970 – 1989) and President (1989-2015) of Berkshire Christian College over a period of 45 years; President of the Advent Christian Central Region (1972 - 77); President of the Prairie States Conference (1969 - 1971); Maine State Conference Executive Committee (1978 - 1980); Vice President of the Advent Christian Eastern Regional Association (1981 - 1982); Camp Bethel Presiding Elder (35 years) and Bible Study teacher for 37 years; Advent Christian General Conference (ACGC) Urban Ministries Consultant; as well as serving as a member of various community organizations -- Mayo Clinic Community Research Advisory Board (CRAB); University of Florida College of Medicine JAX-ASCENT Community Advisory Board; and the Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Jacksonville Campus Board of Advisors.

Rev. Welkley is survived by his wife of 58 years, Caroline (Frost) Welkley; his brother, Jack (spouse Carol) Welkley of San Jose CA; and, three children – Gerald (spouse Stacy) Welkley of Pensacola FL, Debra Welkley of Sacramento CA, Heidi Kalam (spouse Rafiul) of Lake Worth FL; five grandchildren – Jacob Welkley (spouse Rachel) of Clarksville TN, Brittany (spouse Jeremy) England of Murfreesboro TN, Abigail Welkley of Murfreesboro TN, Sean Kalam and Emily Kalam of Lake Worth FL; and three great-grandchildren – Paisley Welkley, Evan and Brooklyn Welkley; as well as 5 nieces and nephews located in California and New York State.

Graveside Service January 23, 2021, 11:30am ET @ Advent Christian Village, Bixler Memorial Gardens East, Gravesite K17, 11075 County Road 136, Dowling Park, FL *Due to recent Covid Restrictions graveside attendance will be immedIate family only.

Tribute Memorial Service January 23, 2021 4pm ET via Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82225924866 Zoom Meeting ID: 822 2592 4866

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to:

Community Hospice & Palliative Care of Northeast FL - 4266 Sunbeam Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257

Lucy Myers (Lee Welkley) Urban Ministries Fund - Checks to be made out to Raymond James with “Lucy Myers Urban Ministries Fund” in the memo line. Mail to: Raymond James C/O Lucy Myers Urban Ministries Fund 245 Riverside Ave., STE 500 Jacksonville FL 32202

Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church - 4001 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32207

Services

  • Graveside

    Saturday, January 23, 2021

  • Memorial Service

    Saturday, January 23, 2021

Memories

Lee Norman WELKLEY

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Andrew Silmser

January 23, 2021

One of the most bittersweet seasons for our family was in 1977 when the Welkey family moved from Chicago to Maine. My parents were college friends with the family. We had great visits to Maine and Florida, but distance naturally prevented us from being with them as often as we had. I say bittersweet because we always knew that our reasons for wishing they lived closer to us were selfish. We knew, of course, they were doing important work bringing people to Jesus. Later, we got to be a “home away from home” for Gerri and Debra as they attended Aurora University. I always got the sense that Lee and Caroline were in my parents thoughts often, and because of my parents friendship, I was able to know another example of authentic faith, and faith in action. In our home, many anecdotes would be told—silly or profound—and Lee or Caroline had a role. However, I never heard an unkind word spoken about them. They were my parents’ true “forever friends.” Later, in my adult life, Lee dropped everything to come and speak at my Father’s funeral, something for which I am eternally grateful. I thank God for his influence and friendship to my parents and kindness and influence on me as I grew up. More than that, the influence he had on others and the population of heaven because of his obedience to God and his work in ministry.

Shannal Thomas

January 23, 2021

My family has known Pastor Welkley for over 40 years. He would pick up me and my brother every week for Sunday school in a Buick. :-) He was very consistent in Urban ministries. I can say that our lives changed because of Pastor Welkley. He was my spiritual mentor. So much of my life success is from our relationship. He truly walk in Christ and his light would always be seen throughout the urban core of Jacksonville, FL. I will miss our lunch meetings and bible studies.

Until we meet again,

~Shannal Thomas

Stan Flewelling

January 21, 2021

For many childhood years I didn’t know my cousin, Lee, very well. We lived in Japan where my folks were missionaries, so a lot of family connections became hazy. I do remember that he was the first relative to greet us in 1961 when we returned for a year’s furlough. Lee’s outgoing nature and intense interest in family impressed me. Those traits, plus his dedication to the Lord’s service, are qualities I admired in him throughout his life. He transferred from Aurora College to Berkshire Christian College, which was also where my family spent our furlough year, so we saw him and Caroline a lot.

Five years later, we returned from Japan again. I started college near Chicago, where Lee was the pastor of Hope Community Church. He soon drew me into the transformative nature of interracial urban ministries. On Thanksgiving Day that fall, Lee encouraged me to apply for work with the Hope Church Summer Youth Program. I was on the program staff for two summers, receiving much more from the experience than I was able to give.

When I graduated from college and looked for work in Chicago, Lee suggested that I join Hope. He and Caroline encouraged me further by inviting me to move into the parsonage with their family. I lived with them for several years, and worshipped with Hope Church for 14 memorable years. Gerald and Debra became like younger siblings.

Lee and Caroline’s family moved to Maine and later Florida. I eventually moved the other way to the West Coast, but we stayed in touch. When I returned to the East Coast, especially when I recently became a “snowbird,” we saw each other almost every year in Florida or at Camp Bethel. Lee took to calling me his “brother-cousin,” which I sheepishly appreciated. With every visit we reminisced about our years in Chicago, feeling grateful for that spiritual heritage and all that God has done through Hope Church since then. I’ll always have the same gratitude for Lee and Caroline and their family.

Charles Platts

January 20, 2021

It was mid-year of 1992 when I met Pastor Welkley and joined New Life Community Church. I was still in high school during this time. I enjoyed his teaching and had an opportunity to sing in the choir. I can recall him coming to me one evening during the church's anniversary celebration expressing his joy and excitement. Another choir member and I ministered the song Tomorrow by The Winans. Pastor Welkley said that it was the first time that anyone in the church had received a standing ovation. I truly appreciated his kindness and compassion. He will be missed.

Elisa Hutchinson Johnson

January 19, 2021

I met pastor welkley in 1988 i lived right across the streets from his church new life community church on w 17th street in Jacksonville fl. I was in the choir lead singer for 10 years he was like n father to me I loved him dearly he was a real true man of God I'm so sad he's gone I pray I can find his daughter heidi kalam my number is 904-438-9215 please give her my number please

Glenda Jenkins

January 18, 2021

My heart is sad, and happy at the same time. Pastor Welkley was truly a man of God, and to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord! He was a brave man, he would walk the streets of Chicago with us, shake hands with the communities, and welcome everyone to Hope Church. You will be missed. I love you and your family.
Glenda Jenkins

Mary Nell Benson (Doty)

January 15, 2021

Dave & I are sorry to hear about Lee’s passing! Lee & Caroline were so gracious
to provide a much needed home away from home for so many friends over the years! My sister Charlotte & I were blessed to stay there on more than one occasion when mom, Delma Doty or daddy, Bill Doty were in Jacksonville
Hospital. Our thoughts & prayers go out to all your family!🙏💕

Charlotte Doty Robertson

January 15, 2021

I was so saddened to hear of Lee’s death. He was a kind and caring person who truly lived his faith. We were classmates and friends at Aurora College ( now Aurora University.) Lee and Caroline helped so many people in kind and quiet ways. When my dad was hospitalized in Jacksonville, Florida , Lee and Caroline let my mother stay with them for three months so that she could be near my dad. They also welcomed my sister and me with open arms when we would come to visit from Texas.
Caroline, I am so very sorry for you loss..I remember fondly seeing you both a few years ago at our 5oth college reunion. You both were still such beautiful and caring people. My heart breaks for you and your family. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I am so very sorry. The world is a better place because Lee was in it.

Chris Mello (Welkley)

January 6, 2021

Many words come to mind when I think of my Uncle Lee:
God
Family
Equity
Unc
He challenged my thinking, he inspired my faith, he taught me about our family tree, he married my husband and me (we were couple #99) and intrigued me with a life well lived. What an inspiration my Unc was. Forever missed, never forgotten. I am forever blessed by knowing him.

Donna Rogers

January 5, 2021

I first met Lee at Camp Bethel's YPI, where I was a young camper and he was our chaplain for the week. He made such an impression on me that, years later, when Camp was looking for a presiding elder, I recommended Lee. Barry and I were honored to have him preside at our wedding in the chapel at Camp on August 12, 2000. After that, we became annual guests at their home in Jacksonville; and a wonderful friendship developed. Hopefully, Barry and Lee are already reminiscing about some of the good times we had together. Although we'll miss Lee terribly, we have wonderful memories of a wise and caring man who followed the Lord with all his heart.

FROM THE FAMILY