Wesley Verne Urch passed away October 10, 2011 at his home in Neenah. He was born in Benton Harbor, MI on June 15, 1923, the son of Margaret and Leland Urch. Cherished husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Wes was a person who truly lived every day to the fullest and enjoyed a wide variety of experiences. In Michigan he was active in community theaters in Saugatuck, Allegan, and Kalamazoo, and in one year appeared in eight plays, several as the lead. He served as a Pinkerton guard at the Masters the year that Tiger Woods played as the top amateur. Naturally, Wes made a point of shaking his hand and wishing him luck. At the last reunion of the 357th he sat across the table from Chuck Yeager. A dedicated Brewers fan, he attended games regularly.
He had the capacity to make lifelong friends everywhere. Boyhood friends were lifelong friends, he made friends with English families during the war who still fondly remember him as “Johnnie”, and in recent years the young people he mentored through the Menasha Rotary Youth Exchange Program remember him with affection. On the Monday following his graduation from high school he reported to work at the factory where his older brother and father were employed, working there until called up to serve in the armed forces during World War II. He served for two years as military policeman at Leiston Airfield, Eng., home of the 357th Fighter Group ASAAF.
Taking advantage of the GI Bill he graduated from Western Michigan University and the University of Michigan with degrees in social work, he began his career as the Youth Officer in Allegan County MI. After several years, finding the work “melancholy”, he entered private industry. While working at Twin City Container in Coloma, MI he became the Executive On Loan to the United Way. There he found his true calling and a passion that lasted for the rest of his life.
Hired as the first paid Executive Director for the Neenah Menasha Community Chest (later the United Way) in 1968, he, his wife Helen and children moved to Neenah where they made their home. He developed successful annual campaigns and programs making the Neenah Menasha United Way among the tops in the state for per capita contributions.
Following his retirement and subsequent death of his wife, Helen, in 1988 he threw himself into becoming a volunteer, and what a volunteer! At one time or another he served on various church committees and the advisory boards of Bletzinger Rehabilitation House, Christine Ann Domestic Services, Reach Counseling, Evergreen Retirement Community, Girl Scouts, Boy Scout Troop 14, Salvation Army, Advocap, Children’s Services, and Children’s Hospital. And how he loved Menasha Rotary! In addition to serving on various committees he served as president, treasurer and most recently, as the Youth Exchange Officer.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Raymond and Alvin, and his first wife Helen (Weber).
He is survived by his wife, Diane; daughter, Lynda (Paul) Bruner, Crivitz, WI; son, Edward Urch, Sr., Menasha, WI; and son, Jonathan (Vicki) Urch, Wausaukee, WI; step-daughters: Jodi (Steven) Hecht, Grandville, MI; Susan (Michael) Anderson, Rowlett, TX; and Ellen Schoeler, Denver, CO. Grandchildren: Eric Bruner; Jennifer Bruner; Edward Urch, Jr; Bryan Urch; Dean Urch; Stacy Croley; Kristi Urch; Ami Urch; Mark Anderson; and Eric Hecht; and eight great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers please make donations either to the United Way Fox Cities or a charity of your choice.
A funeral service will be held Friday, October 14, 2011 at 11:00 A.M. at Congregational United Church of Christ, Neenah. Visitation will be Thursday, October 13, 2011 from 4:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. at Neenah’s Westgor Funeral Home, and again Friday from 10:00 A.M. at church until the hour of service.