Roger Spencer Welton died a few days before his 89th birthday on October 2, 2020 in Fort Myers, Florida, a place that had been his home and community for thirty-three years. Roger was known for his contributions and leadership in Kiwanis, taking the Fort Myers Beach Thrift Store to become a premier retail outlet that funded scholarships and provided support to many of the area’s young people. He gave opportunity to many through employment at the store and as a mentor. Roger and his wife, Barbara, who passed away in 2018, were active members of Chapel-by-the-Sea Presbyterian Church in Fort Myers Beach as well. In later years, Roger joined the choir, adding his voice to worship during all seasons, even taking on the challenge of solo performance at the young age of 85. He kept his Messiah Oratorio in a special drawer along with his treasured family mementoes.
Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1931 when his father was a graduate student in the University of Michigan Mathematics department, Roger grew up on Deerfield Drive in Irondequoit, New York. He loved to tell stories of his adventures and escapades with friends in wartime suburban Rochester, where he attended public school and graduated from the University of Rochester in the Class of 1953. Roger supported “UofR” proudly as a Founding Member of the Wilson Society and enjoyed meeting fellow alumni in southwest Florida.
Roger and Barbara (who grew up on Deerfield Drive, too) married in 1954 and shortly thereafter moved to Fayetteville, NC where Roger managed a factory for the then Rochester-based Fasco Industries. They started their family there, then moved to the Catskills and then to Troy, NY where Roger continued his work in small manufacturing and Barbara studied and then taught adult education. Building a modest home in Poestenkill, NY was a highlight for them, and they enjoyed yardwork and gardening along with church activities and bowling leagues. Roger was an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church and held many church leadership positions throughout his life.
In the Seventies Roger made a career switch to life insurance and estate planning, studying for his ACLU and working for New England Life, Prudential, and finally as a advanced life sales manager for Farm Family Life Insurance in Albany, NY. Roger loved to work with people and thrived in his new challenge. After Barbara retired from the Troy City School District, they moved to Fort Myers Beach, Florida in 1987, to enjoy the weather and have more time for bridge and golf.
Roger was a lifelong sports fan and recorded two holes in one on the golf course. He loved baseball statistics and the player personalities, settling into his chair to watch games on weekends and evenings. A high point for his dogged devotion to the Mets was a ticket to the 1969 World Series against Baltimore and telling the story of how his trusty white Corvair survived the journey.
Roger’s family and many friends will miss him. He is survived by a daughter, Donna, a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, and a son, David, a pastor, musician, and piano technician with the University of Miami, daughter-in-law Rosemary Noga Welton, as well as three grandchildren, Hannah Buoye, Ian Buoye, and Esther Miller, a sister-in-law, June Marolf Welton, and nephews Jeffrey, John, and James Welton. His younger brother, Paul, preceded him into the Lord’s care in 2009.
A memorial service, virtual and in-person, will be held at Chapel-by-the-Sea on November 7, 2020. Private burial will be at White Haven Memorial Park in Pittsford, NY.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Florida Kiwanis Foundation (https://floridakiwanisfoundation.org/), Chapel-by-the-Sea Presbyterian Church (https://www.chapelbts.org/), or Echo Global Farm (https://echonet.org/).
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