Friday, 29 March 2013 00:00
Morris Welte died at his home in Southampton on Feb. 27, surrounded by family. Born on a day of the year now assured a place in the history books, Sept. 11, 1912, Welte enjoyed two careers in his lifetime after traveling the world as a radio operator aboard ships and planes.
The youngest of three boys, Welte emigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe and grew up in New York City. His parents split up when he was just three years old, after which he went to live with foster families. He ended up living at an orphanage starting at age 9 and credits his upbringing there with teaching him right from wrong and how to be responsible.
A scholarship to the YMCA Radio School allowed him to learn ship-to-shore communication and Morse code, which was the start of a 10-year odyssey that brought him to ports around the globe.
During World War II, Welte joined the Air Force and and worked for Pan American Airlines in Florida, which was contracted by the government to help out with the war effort. Welte was the radio operator traveling on bombers being delivered to Allied troops.
After the war, Welte, an avid Yankees fan, worked for a few years as a radio and television repairman in New York City, during which time he had a chance meeting with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
The year 1953 brought he and his first wife, May, to Southampton, where he began work for the MacKay Radio Receiving Station. He retired from that job, in which he kept track of messages for commercial ships off-shore, after 25 years. His wife died shortly afterward of cancer.
Three years later, he met his second wife, Audrey, at a coffee hour at the First Presbyterian Church of Southampton, of which he was a devoted member. They were happily married for 35 years.
His wife shared his love of travel and they have taken a trip every year since they married in 1978. Their Southampton home is filled with boxes of photographs documenting – all meticulously organized by Welte – their travels.
Never content to be idle, Welte started repairing clocks sometime in 1979, eventually starting his own business, Tick Tock Clock Repair, in his basement. In 1994, he fixed the Village of Roslyn’s tower clock, as a favor to his stepdaughter, Janet Galante, who was the mayor of the village at the time.
He retired just two years ago, working through battles with cancer and macular degeneration, and surviving open heart surgery.
In addition to his wife, Welte is survived by four step-children, Laura Farrara and her husband Raymond of Willsboro and Florida, Janet Galante and her husband Richard of Roslyn, Robert Nelson and his wife Kelli of Florida, and Elizabeth Farrara and her husband Mark of Florida; six step-grandchildren, Kristin, Kaitlin, Holly, Ryan, Eric and Evan. He was predeceased by two brothers, Frank and Sam Welte; and his first wife, Mae Welte.
Memorial donations may be made to East End Hospice, Box 1048, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978 or the First Presbyterian Church of Southampton, 2 South Main Street, Southampton, NY 11968.