Don Welch roamed the TV dial in a 50 year career, but viewers always followed

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) He was a man of many talents and job descriptions.

But TV icon may fit him best, at least in Chattanooga.

TV veteran Don Welch passed away Sunday at the age of 75 from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy Body Dementia.

The Dayton native often talked about his pipefitting days.

But he began his broadcasting career on the radio in Chattanooga in the 1960s.

In 1967, he left WDXB radio to work at WRCB TV.

He would end up working for all three stations in Chattanooga, on and behind the camera.

Welch did voice work, directed, was a photographer and eventually a weatherman.

And that’s where he made his mark.

In an age before meteorological degrees, newsroom computers and radar, he presented a folksier take on the weather.

From his Great Grandpappy Welch to wooly worms, viewers would often trust his forecast over the more scientific ones.

Welch also leant his celebrity to a host of local causes and pastimes, from Special Olympics, the Shriners, to tennis.

Sometimes (most of the time) his job departures were abrupt and tense. He most famously quit on the air during a brief stint doing weekend weather in Nashville.

Don came to WDEF TV in the 1980s to take over the Morning Show when Harry Thornton retired.

And he was the weatherman on the top rated newscast in town.

When he left, it was sudden, scandalous and earth shaking.

Welch and popular anchor Tracy Moore were hired away for a return to WTVC.

The coup was enough to push the station to number one, where they would stay for the next 35 years.

Don Welch finally ended his broadcasting when he retired from Newschannel 9 in 2014.

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