Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Jack Welch

(The following profile is based, in part, on Walt Reed’s 2001 book, The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000, and biographical information, provided by Welch’s son-in-law, Bob, in the Today’s Inspiration post dated March 15, 2010.)

John William “Jack” Welch was born in Cleburne, Texas on April 16, 1905. His birth date is from the Social Security Death Index. In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Welch was the last of six children; preceding him were Grace (21), Madie (20), Ivy (18), Albert (13) and Gordon (7). Their parents were Frank, a retail grocer, and Beulah. The family lived in Cleburne at 109 Warren.

Welch lived with his parents and brothers Albert and Gordon in Temple, Texas at 109 North First Street, as recorded in the 1920 census. In high school, Welch contributed cartoons to the yearbook. According to Reed, Welch took the correspondence course of the W. L. Evans School of Cartooning. Bob said: “Jack wanted to go to art school after high school, but the local minister told his family that being an artist was not a suitable profession so his parents sent Jack to SMU [Southern Methodist University]. He lasted a year there, but his desire to be an artist led him to leave home and leave school and head to Chicago where he changed his name to Roy Sim(m)s and began a career as a political cartoonist. At some point, Jack had a comic strip as well.” Reed said Welch “…worked for papers in Texas, California, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York.”

Welch has not yet been found in the 1930 census. According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Welch’s What Price Vacation!, a series of color Sunday magazine covers, was published from June 29 to July 20, 1930. Around August 1937, his daily panel, On Our Block, was distributed by King Features, which ended it in early 1938.

According to the 1940 census, Welch was married to Frances and lived in Leonia, New Jersey, at 31 Brook Terrace; in 1935, he resided in New York City. Welch was a freelance illustrator who worked 52 weeks and earned $5,000 the previous year. Some time later, Welch married Iowa native Ida Coquella Pilling, a teacher in Leonia. Bob said, “…Ida met Jack’s two major criteria for a mate, she was brilliant and she was as short as Jack was tall. Jack always felt that he was too tall and didn’t want his children to have that burden….”

Reed said Welch did sketches and comprehensive drawings for advertising layouts. He went on to produce finished art for advertisers such as Keds, Jell-O, Pullman, Traveler’s Insurance, and Birds Eye. His work came to the attention of the Saturday Evening Post for which he did several covers.

Brooklyn Eagle 1/8/1951

A 1951 passenger list, at, recorded Welch’s address as 80 Madison Avenue, Valhalla, New York.

According to the Social Security Death Index, Welch passed away in August 1985. His last residence was in Valhalla. An obituary has not been found.

—Alex Jay

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