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Deborah Allison Welch (Dr Deb, or Debi) went Home to be with Jesus on September 10, 2023, at the age of 74. She entered Heaven hearing her Savior’s voice, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Debi was born in Portland, Maine to Leonard Woodrow Cooper and Beulah Isabelle Allen on October 6, 1948. As a child, Deb enjoyed playing games with her brother Craig and family times spent at Old Orchard Beach. She played flute in the high school band and held several positions of leadership at her high school in Portland, Maine.
She graduated from Deering High School in 1966 and went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree from Aurora University in Illinois and later her Doctorate from National Louis University (NLU) in 2002.
She was saved by Jesus Christ early in life and baptized on the last Sunday of camp-meeting. She described it as follows; “Rev Pender officiated, at a small pond by the grounds. The moment that I came out of the water, was one of the defining moments of my life. It is frozen in time. The folks on the shore sang a verse of the hymn traditionally sung after a baptism: “Happy Day.” I will never ever forget that day.”
At the age of 19, she met and married Kirk Adams Harding, Jr. Debi and Kirk were blessed with three children, Kirk Adams Harding III, Matthew Cooper Harding, and Allison Cooper (Harding) Peterson. Debi and Kirk had a wonderful 30 years of life together. Debi then met and married Daniel Edward Johnson. They were married for 20 years until he passed away on July 23, 2017. Two years later, Debi reconnected with David Arthur Welch. They were married on January 11, 2019 in Geneva, Illinois and had a beautiful spiritual wedding at the Malasiqui Bible Church in Pangasinan, Philippines while on a mission’s trip.
Debi’s education and career was as an educator. She achieved so much including:
1971 BA in Elementary Education and English from Aurora University,
1971-1981 Taught 3rd and 4th grades at Bristol Grade School,
1982-1985 Taught 4th grade at Yorkville Grade School,
1986-1989 Taught 4th grade at Parkview Elementary School,
1989 Received Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from NLU,
1990-1998 Taught 4th grade at Circle Center Intermediate School,
1991-1995 Part time graduate lecturer for Aurora University,
1993 Part time graduate lecturer for NLU,
1995 Received Masters in Bibliotherapy from NLU, 1995 Part time graduate lecturer at Silver Lake College,
1998-2000 Principal at Kaneland District South Campus Elementary,
2001-2007 Principal at Antioch Elementary School,
2002 Received her Doctorate from NLU,
2007 Retired from being principal, and
2012 Retired from university.
In addition to her distinguished education career, Dr Deb was a holocaust scholar. She was active in suicide prevention through Survivors of Suicide. She touched so many lives for the better. She authored several books and was the historian of the Washington Advent Christian Campground. She was also an avid scrapbook enthusiast. She loved her family so much. She compiled photo albums and scrapbooks for each of her children and grandchildren. Her students have testified to how she has impacted and changed their lives for the better and have created life-long memories.
She was active in the Young Authors Program, started Kid Business (students learned entrepreneurship by creating their own businesses), and Friendship Week (a week-long interdisciplinary unit about love and friendship.) Her passion for education was passed down to her children who are all active in education.
Dr Deb and David settled in Yorkville, Illinois where Debi continued to serve the Lord and they enjoyed their marriage for 5 years. David will always say that it was the best 5 years of his entire life, and that Deb was the greatest gift God has ever given him.
Debi joins her mother, father, grandson Woodrow Harding, Kirk and Dan in Heaven. She is survived by her husband David A Welch, her brother Craig L [Jennifer] Cooper, her son Kirk A [Christy] Harding III, son Matthew C Harding, and daughter Allison C [Christopher] Peterson. She leaves 3 nieces: Bianca L Cooper, Alana B Cooper, Kendall M Cooper, and 6 grandchildren: Exie Harding, Kirk Harding IV, Isabella (Bella) Harding, Cooper Peterson, Skylar Peterson, and Matthew Billy (MB) Harding. When she married David, Debi gained a "bonus" daughter Cori L [Tate] Knutson and 2 additional beloved grandchildren, Brach T Knutson and Aiden W Knutson that she loved very much and they loved her. All surviving relatives will carry on her loving and caring spirit.
Please seek comfort in the words found in Psalms 116:15 "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be given to Deb’s most treasured charitable organizations:
Washington Advent Christian Campground. Please make your check payable to Camp Washington, c/o Pam Allen, 2 Deer Lane, Hallowell, ME 04347. Please note that your gift is in memory of Deborah A. Welch, for the care and maintenance of the Woody Cooper Memorial Cottage.
Pangasinan Bible Mission of the Philippines. Please make your check payable to Commission Ministers Network, P.O. Box 291002, Kerrville, TX 78029. Please note that your gift is in memory of Deborah A. Welch.
A visitation will be held Saturday, September 30, 2023 from 9:00 am until the time of her Celebration of Life service at 11:00 am at Chapelstreet Church, 2300 South Street, Geneva, Illinois.
Interment will be private at the Clarendon Hills Cemetery, Darien, Illinois. Next summer her ashes will be scattered at one of her favorite special locations (the Goslings) in her beloved Maine.
Arrangements handled by Malone Funeral Home, in Geneva. For information 630-232-8233 or malonefh.com.