News Columns & Blogs

The mayor, the ambassador

It was a helpless feeling, knowing Mayor Bill Welch was fighting for his life all week in Hershey Medical Center.

He was a fighter, so we hoped. But he could only fight so long, and the loss hits hard in the community he so loved.

The mayor was one of the first people I met when I came back to Happy Valley for this job, and he stayed in touch. We occasionally had breakfast -- the last time on my fifth anniversary in this job -- and we saw each other at functions and meetings.

He could understand fully what this job entails, having done it. And he made suggestions and provided feedback occasionally, and I appreciated it greatly.

He was the ambassador of State College in every way, representing it and working to improve it. He understood this vibrant and diverse town-and-gown and did so much -- everything he could -- to make it the best.

This loss is great for State College, Penn State and the entire Centre Region, and I very much agree with Penn State President Graham Spanier's comment in today's story that Welch was one of the best leaders in Pennsylvania.

I wish Nadine and the family all the best, and I know this community will support them in any way.