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Mary Lee Welsh

February 5, 1925 ~ January 3, 2022 (age 96)


Mary Lee Weaver Welsh died January 3, 2022, following a brief illness.  The eldest of three girls, Mary Lee (ML to her closest friends) was born on February 5, 1925 to Josephine Evangeline (Klose) and Loyd Weaver on a small family farm in rural northeast Nebraska near Brunswick.  Dust, heat and almost perpetual drought made for years of devastatingly poor crops, but the family shared laughter, determination, faith and love in abundance.

ML’s life journey was a storybook, only-in-America, saga.  At age four, ML joined other local children in a nearby one-room schoolhouse.  Later, she and her sisters rode their horse, ‘Babe’, to the schoolhouse, and after class walked back to her grandparent’s house, where Babe would be waiting.  Between the kind, encouraging teacher and the warm fire burning in the schoolhouse throughout the brutal winter days, reading and learning became ML’s lifelong passion.  Throughout her life, she was motivated by an uncommon interest in and knowledge of literature, history, the arts and American values.  ML graduated from Neligh (NE) high school when she was sixteen.  Throughout high school ML worked for a Neligh family to earn her room and board, while still managing to distinguish herself academically.  Her skills, particularly in shorthand and typing, were recognized and soon after graduation, ML received an unlikely, and ultimately life-changing, offer from a Business Training School in Sioux City, Iowa, with promises of tuition along with a family room and board arrangement.

ML was attracted to the challenges of working for several Sioux City companies during the WW II years, a period of shared national purpose and sacrifice that she never forgot.  Demonstrating consistent skill and work ethic, ML was soon recruited by Arthur Andersen & Co. to work in Chicago, a place to her as foreign and distant as outer space!  She arrived in Chicago on August 9, 1948, lived at the YWCA and worked as many overtime hours as possible to send money home to her family. 

One fateful day, ML was asked to bring her steno pad to the office of Leslie Thomas Welsh, one of Arthur Andersen’s brightest, but demanding, young accountants.  In her mind, a fairytale romance began, and they were married August 12, 1950.  They would have four children, eventually live in a suburban home near Barrington, IL, and enjoy playing golf, tennis, shooting skeet, swimming and paddle tennis together.  In 1971, Leslie was named President and COO of Studebaker-Worthington, a fortune 500 conglomerate, and together they traveled the world visiting subsidiary companies until Leslie’s death in 1984.

In her final year, ML was thrilled to attend her 80th high school reunion in Neligh, the 100th anniversary celebration at Barrington Hills Country Club, where she was a member for almost 65 years, and host her traditional, annual Thanksgiving celebration in Brunswick with nearly all family members in attendance.

ML loved to play bridge and became one of Barrington’s most loved, but feared, bridge opponents; and was honored to be a longtime member of The Garden Club of Barrington.  But her greatest joy was her family, all of whom adored her in return. ML was preceded in death by her husband, Leslie, her sister, Dorothy Bivens, and countless dear family and friends.  She is survived by her sister, Caroline Stafford; by her four children:  Leslie Thomas Welsh, Jr. (Ginger), Robert Weaver Welsh (Mary), Barbara JoAnn Reed (Glenn) and Cynthia Lee Patterson (Clyde); her twelve grandchildren: Lauren, Allison and Betsy Welsh, Evangeline, Abby and Arden Reed, Kyle, Lucy Lee, Jessamyn and Bradford Patterson and Caroline and Clare Welsh; nine great grandchildren and many loving nieces and nephews.

The world took many turns during the span of her almost 97 years, but ML always nurtured a sincere, abiding faith in her country and maintained a deep respect for the individuals who fought and sacrificed to ensure the freedoms and values of the United States.

A springtime celebration of life is being planned.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in ML’s memory to the Road Home Program at Rush ( or The JourneyCare Foundation (

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