Melba Irene Welch, 83, of Swisher, died swiftly and peacefully at her home on Monday, July 23, 2018.
Melba was born on the Fourth of July in the Mississippi River town of Oquawka, Ill. Throughout her life, Melba delighted in the red, white and blue associated with the birthday she shared with the country. She grew up as part of a large family that included four brothers and eight sisters, the children of Harry Eugene Alecock and Florence Lillian (Goff) Alecock.
Growing up during the Depression and World War II, Melba learned the virtues of hard work and frugality. She also learned the importance of turning ordinary things into special things. She learned how to snap beans and make them into a crisp salad and how to roll out egg noodles and turn them into a signature holiday dish.
In 1954 she married Frederick Altheide. The two spent the next five years traveling in an Airstream trailer as Fred honed his craft as a salesman. After Fred joined what was then Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids, the couple started a family that grew to include four children Steven, Denis, Amy and Erin. As the
children entered school, Melba began her longtime career as a security guard for what by then had become Rockwell Collins.
In 1978, Melba married Richard Welch and embraced his two children, Daniel and Cindy, as members of the family. Dick and Melba enjoyed 40 years of marriage until his death in February 2018.
Melba loved to travel as much as she loved to come home. She and Dick traveled by plane, boat, car and snowmobile, and were particularly fond of trains. Still, Melba always gravitated back home back to her kitchen, back to her yard and ultimately back to her job, her friends and her family.
In recent years, Melba took an active role in the lives of her great-grandchildren. They called her simply "Great." Perhaps this was because it was easier to say than "Great-Gramma" or perhaps because "Great" was the best way to describe Melba's adventurous and loving spirit.
Melba is survived by a blended family that includes Steve Altheide and his wife Erin of Cedar Rapids, Denis Altheide and his wife Peggie, also of Cedar Rapids, Amy Ellis and her husband Gary of Walford, Erin Altheide and her husband Bruce Wheaton of Iowa City, Daniel Welch and his wife Mary Osing of Portland, Ore., and Cindy Luther and her husband Kevin of Rockford, Ill.
Melba also is survived by eight grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and seven sisters.
Melba was preceded in death by her parents, four brothers and one sister. She also was preceded in death by her husband, Dick; and by her granddaughter, Jenny Altheide of Cedar Rapids.
Funeral services for Melba will be held at Teahen Funeral Home in Cedar Rapids on Monday, July 30, at 1:30 p.m. There will be a reception at the funeral home following the service. The family will receive visitors at Teahen Funeral Home on Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. and for an hour before the funeral on Monday. Melba's cremated remains will be interred in a private ceremony later.
Online condolences can be left at www.teahenfuneralhome.com.