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Two of Welk's Siblings lived in Aberdeen

By Jeff Bahr

Aberdeen American News, 31 May 2014


Since writing about Lawrence Welk’s connections to South Dakota two weeks ago, I have learned that two of Welk’s siblings lived in the Hub City.

Eva, the youngest of the Welk children, was an Aberdeen resident for more than 60 years. She arrived in 1940 and remained until her death in 2006 at age 96. The last 11 years of her life were spent at Avera Mother Joseph Manor.

Aberdeen was also the home of John Welk, another of the eight Welk children who grew up on a farm near Strasburg, N.D.

John initially lived in Ipswich. But he and his wife, Theresa, later moved to Aberdeen.

One of their children, Gene, is a longtime Aberdeen resident. He and his wife, Mary Lou, now spend winters in Arizona and the rest of the year in Colorado and this area.

Eva Welk spent her time in Aberdeen in service to others.

“After her parents passed away, she devoted her life to taking care of elderly people in Aberdeen,” said Evelyn Welk Schwab, a daughter of another Welk sibling, Mike.

At the time Eva moved to Aberdeen, jobs weren’t plentiful, “so that was a nice outlet for her,” said Schwab, who lives in Strasburg.

“She was kind of a homebody. She was a very spunky lady,” Schwab said, adding that Eva Welk was “very neat.”

William Lamont of Aberdeen remembers Eva working for his great-grandparents, B.C. and Anna Lamont. That was in the yellow home at 519 S. Arch St. that is now used by Alcoholics Anonymous.

“She was a very nice person,” Lamont said. “I knew her primarily when I was very young.”

Eva and John Welk are both buried in Aberdeen.

After she died, Allan Burke wrote in North Dakota’s Emmons County Record that Eva made numerous trips to California to visit Lawrence Welk and his wife, Fern.

She appeared on a 1957 episode of Ralph Edwards’ TV show “This Is Your Life,” on which her brother was featured. She was in the audience for several episodes of “The Lawrence Welk Show.”

In his autobiography, Lawrence Welk refers to Eva as “our baby sister.”

Eva was a humble, quiet person who did not drive, Burke wrote. She lived in an apartment near Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which she attended. In the apartment, she kept dozens of photos of her relatives. “She never married, so her nieces and nephews were like her children and their children like her grandchildren,” he wrote in the Linton, N.D., newspaper.

“Lawrence sent her many things over the years, but she passed them on to relatives and friends,” Burke wrote. “She read all of his books, but gave them away as soon as she finished reading them.”

According to Burke’s story, Eva would do anything she could for the elderly people for whom she worked. “She made an extra effort to cook what her clients wanted to eat and the way they wanted it. Her services were so popular that she had a waiting list.

“Eva was noted for her baking and cooking, and she often cooked for family gatherings,” Burke wrote. “Lawrence especially enjoyed his sister’s German cooking.”

Permission of Aberdeen American News and Jeff Bahr, columnist.

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