A Remarkable Woman Makes an Extraordinary Gift to Parkersburg Area Community Foundation

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation & Regional Affiliates has received a $15 million gift according to its Executive Director, Judy Sjostedt Ritchie.

“It’s been said that, ‘Some people leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same,’” Sjostedt said. “Mary M. “Mickey” Welch left her footprints on the hearts of many people throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley and elsewhere. A successful owner of numerous businesses who was steadfast in supporting her community, Mickey had a boundless concern for others, always patiently listening when someone approached her with a need or an idea. She often gave support, quietly helping thousands of different individuals and organizations over the years.”

Sjostedt continued, “Mickey was always thoughtful in her giving and instrumental in making many good things possible. In recent years, she helped to launch the Hunger and Safety Net Funds for the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF), both which are currently addressing critical local needs during the pandemic.”

When she passed away in August 2019, her family and friends were devastated. Wood County mourned the loss of one of its strongest champions. But Mickey had one more gift waiting. Like the trailblazer she was in life—the first woman in West Virginia to drill an oil well—and with the spirit of compassion that was her hallmark, she once again stepped up to care for others.

This time, Mickey set a new record, blazing a trail for future generations, with the single largest gift ever made to the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) in its 57-year history. Her $15 million bequest endows the Mary M. Welch Advised Fund of PACF, a permanent charitable fund to forever benefit the Parkersburg area with emphasis on those causes of keen interest to Mickey during her own lifetime.

Her daughter, Mary Anne Ketelsen, Fund Adviser to PACF said, “My mother loved her community; it was part of her family.  She cared about improving life here for those most vulnerable—children, youth, special needs individuals, and animals. She liked helping organizations that help people to help themselves and that enable families to build a better life. Mother gave to so many different worthy causes. She chose to place her major legacy gift with the PACF because in working with the Foundation for many years, she saw that they, too, worked with a variety of groups, and did so fairly and impartially. PACF is at the forefront of many good things here. She felt she could trust them to manage the gift she planned to leave for our community’s benefit. She knew they would help seek out the best and most appropriate ways to use her gift far into the future.”

Cynthia Brown, PACF Board of Directors Chairperson, said, “We’re humbled by the magnitude of the trust that a gift of this size places in the PACF. Our Board is deeply honored to have been chosen by Mrs. Welch to receive such a wonderful gift that will help so many people in the coming years.”

Mickey’s long-time friend and business advisor, Robin Baylous, CPA, said, “Mickey was a great friend; a deeply caring and generous person. She was also a very savvy businesswoman. She saw the PACF as forward thinking and well-managed; she liked the fact that needs and times will change but the PACF will still be here.”

Mickey gave as she did during her lifetime, selflessly. She placed her major legacy gift alongside those of others locally, large and small, all working together to build a stronger foundation for the Mid-Ohio Valley. Judy Sjostedt Ritchie, PACF’s Executive Director since 1999, said the PACF will honor Mickey’s giving traditions through this fund. She explained, “It’s important for those seeking resources to know that we will manage requests using PACF’s existing grants processes. Twice a year, our Community Action Grants program accepts requests; annually, local Humane Societies may request help via the Hornbrook grants application; and time-sensitive mini-grant requests can be requested any time using the Foundation’s SUN grants process.” She invites organizations to review grant opportunities online at  pacfwv.com/grants or to contact PACF’s Associate Director for Community Leadership, Marian Clowes at 304.428.4438, marian.clowes@pacfwv.com.

Sjostedt Ritchie added, “A gift like this is transformational for PACF; it will propel us forward. Mickey supported so many important causes during her lifetime. Now, in partnership with PACF, with her daughter’s guidance, Mickey’s Fund will still be caring for the things that mattered to her far into the future,  well past our lifetimes. Amidst a difficult year for so many, Mickey’s tremendous gift brings us all cause for hope for a brighter tomorrow. We are proud to serve as her steward and so grateful to Mickey for her remarkable gift for our community.”

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates (PACF) works with individuals, families, businesses, and civic or nonprofit organizations to make a positive and permanent commitment for the future of our community.  The PACF is a single 501(c)(3) public charity that manages more than 375 charitable funds with more than $65 million in assets.  The PACF works in partnership with its local affiliates to provide leadership and develop philanthropic resources to meet the needs of an 11-county service area.  Since 1963, PACF has helped local citizens support charitable needs and touch every aspect of life in the community in a variety of lasting ways.  To learn how to create a personal charitable legacy or for more information about the PACF, visit  www.pacfwv.com  or call 304-428-4438.