John R. Welchli
Hometown: Jackson, MI
Team: Special

John R. Welchli '50
Jackson, MI
Year Inducted:

John R. Welchli ’50 is a member of Brown’s distinguished list of alumni who have participated in the Olympics. He was a member of the United States team that took a Silver Medal in the four-man crew without coxswain at the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia. Welchli was also involved in 32 U.S. National and Canadian Henley National championships in sculling and sweep rowing in the heavy and lightweight categories between 1955-64. For many years he held the National record (2000 meters) in the lightweight single and double and also the Canadian Henley in the lightweight singles. In recent years, Welchli has rowed in the veterans categories at Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston and managed the fastest elapsed time on several occasions, including 1978. Just this September he took first place (age 45-51) in the Singles and in the 50-and-Over bracket for four with coxswain at the First Annual Masters Rowing Championship in Craftsburg, Vt. As an undergraduate, John Welchli was a swimmer, ran track for four years, and captained the cross-country team. It was a skiing accident that led him into rowing. While recuperating from a knee injury, he used the locker room facilities of the Detroit Boat Club and did his running on the nearby bridle paths. Walter Hoover, the venerable rowing coach at the Club, talked to Welchli about switching sports and the Brown graduate has been pulling his own oar ever since. After two years of military service, Welchli resumed rowing in 1954 and in just two years became a member of the Olympic rowing team. This was the most successful group ever boated by the United States, winning six medals in seven events. Perhaps the key to John Welchli’s success is his versatility. He is one of the few men ever to achieve success in both sculling and sweep rowing as a heavyweight (which his is not) and as a lightweight. He is vice president and treasurer of Securities Counsel, Inc., in Jackson, Mich.