Ted Welch remembered; Alexander recalls his fundraising rules

At a Saturday memorial service for Republican fundraiser Ted Welch drew a crowd of hundreds, reports The Tennessean, including Tennessee’s governor and both U.S. senators, the state House speaker, two congressmen and two Nashville mayors.

There was a round of speeches at Westminster Presbyterian Church in tribute to Welch, who died March 8 at age 80. In one, it was recalled that he met his wife, Colleen, when she came to him seeking a donation to the Vanderbilt School of Nursing – and got it.

Welch raised money for Republican presidents, presidential nominees and presidential hopefuls, including U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who first worked with Welch during an unsuccessful run for governor in 1974.

Alexander, who later was elected governor twice and ran for president in 1996 and 2000, said Welch had a number of fund-raising rules, including:

• Always ask prospects for a little more money than they can give. They’ll take it as a compliment.

• Don’t forget to ask directly for the money.

• Don’t raise money for a cause you don’t really believe in.

“Bob Dole said in front of his own fund-raisers that Ted Welch was the best fund-raiser in the Republican Party,” Alexander said. “Howard Baker, not to be outdone, said Ted Welch was the best fund-raiser in the world.”

…Although the Rev. Donovan A. Drake, the church’s pastor, jokingly asked if there were any Democrats in the crowd, the presence of several — including Mayor Karl Dean, former Mayor Bill Purcell and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper — illustrated Welch’s broad appeal.

House Speaker Beth Harwell, a Nashville Republican, said after the service that Welch didn’t just help candidates on the national stage. She met him during her first House campaign in the 1980s.

“He was always in such good spirits,” Harwell said. “He actually enjoyed fund-raising. You can’t say that about everyone.”

Honorary pallbearers included Alexander, Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, former senators Bill Brock and Bill Frist, and former Gov. Winfield Dunn. Former Gov. Don Sundquist also attended.