Hometown Hero: O.C. Welch

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - He is running out of wall space at his dealership for awards, but O.C. Welch will proudly find a spot for a special one he will receive Thursday night.

"The way I look at life, the sooner you learn how to give," said Welch, "the more you will receive from the Lord. And if you continue to give, he'll continue to give you stuff to give."

That generosity has touched individuals and organizations in Savannah and South Carolina for years.

It also will be recognized Thursday night in Las Vegas, when Welch receives the Ford Motor Company's "Salute to Dealers'' Award. The award is given annually to three Ford dealers in the U.S. in honor of unwavering commitment to community.

"Ford Motor Company has been a blessing in my life," said Welch. "They are a great company. They give so much all over the world to so many different charities and set a good example for their dealers. There are a lot of dealers that I've met in my lifetime that do just as much as I do."

But few people in any industry are as involved in as many different causes as Welch.

He supports his alma mater, Benedictine Military School, and the Catholic Church. He was a founding member of the 200 Club in Savannah and is very active with the United Way. And he recently has donated additional reward funds to agencies attempting to solve crime.

"I got involved with a lot of crime stuff when Wesley Franklin was murdered and it kind of gives you a different perspective," said Welch. "My whole thing with crime is, whatever you give for information, it will never bring the victim back, but it will give the family closure and everybody's entitled to closure."

While Welch's charitable contributions are estimated at almost $4 million, which does not include one community project that is as close to this his heart as any of his causes.

"I started going to Bacon Park when I was 5 years old and I was honored to be awarded that contract," said Welch, whose O.C. Welch Golf Properties manages the city-owned course. "It doesn't matter where I go, people find a way to come over and shake my hand and thank me for Bacon Park."

This WTOC Hometown Hero has restored a sense of community there, as much as the community golf course.

"I like it when I see somebody walking around the course carrying their bag or I see somebody pulling a cart," he said "Last week I was out there and I saw a man and his three kids hitting balls on the range. That's what I was trying to create."

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