William Joseph Welsh

William Joseph Welsh

MADISON/BETHESDA, MD-William Joseph Welsh, age 92, of Madison, passed away on Friday, July 13, 2012, at Capitol Lakes Retirement Community. He was born on November 15, 1919, in Weatherly, Pa., the son of Edward Charles and Mary Agnes (Doheny) Welsh. Bill married Winifred Leigh Smith on October 20, 1950, in Washington, DC; they lived in Bethesda, Maryland from 1952 to 2011. Bill was very gregarious and loved connecting with people. One of his great joys was his 17-acre country retreat in Sharpsburg, Md.

Bill was enormously proud to be a 1940 graduate of the University of Notre Dame from which he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1984. He served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, where he rose to the rank of major. He was a dedicated public servant, working for the federal government for almost 47 years, including 41 years at the Library of Congress; when he retired in 1988 he had served as Deputy Librarian of Congress for 12 years. He was very proud of his accomplishments at the Library, including his roles in the renovation of the historic Jefferson Building, the development of a process to lengthen the lifespan of books by de-acidifying the paper on which they were printed, supporting an intern program to develop new leaders, and overseeing a pilot project on the use of optical disk technology to store pictorial and textual material in compact formats. In 1971, he was awarded the American Library Association’s Melvil Dewey Award for his imaginative leadership and wide-ranging contributions to librarianship. In 1979, he headed the first official delegation of American librarians to China following the resumption of official diplomatic exchanges. In 1983, he was presented with the library’s Distinguished Service Award, its highest honor.

Bill is survived by his wife of 62 years, Winifred; son, James Forrest (Kevin Lee) Welsh; granddaughter, Christine Leigh (David) Sohl; daughter-in-law, Maureen Butler; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his son, Douglas Brian Welsh; sisters, Mary Jane Luchi and Jean Marie Welsh, and brothers, Edward Charles Welsh and Bishop Thomas Jerome Welsh.

A Memorial Service will be held at ST. PATRICK CATHOLIC CHURCH, 404 E. Main Street, Madison, at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 19, 2012, with Monsignor Kevin D. Holmes presiding. Visitation will be held at the church from 9 a.m. until the time of service on Thursday. Following the service, a Celebration of Life will be held at 2:00 p.m. at CAPITAL LAKES RETIREMENT CENTER, 333 W. Main Street, Madison, in the Grand Hall.