NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Ted Welch, a prolific fundraiser in Tennessee Republican politics for four decades, has died. He was 80.
Welch's wife, Colleen Conway-Welch, said he died due to complications from a fall. Vanderbilt Medical Center Hospital in Nashville confirmed Welch died at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
"It's often told the story about Ted Welch that the worst things that anyone could hear was, "Ted is holding on line one," Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Davidson County) said. "If Ted Welch asked you for something it was very difficult to tell him no. He didn't like to hear no and that persistence made him a national fundraiser."
Welch started raising money for candidates in 1970 for Winfield Dunn's winning run for governor. His efforts covered the modern campaigns of U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam. He also worked with senators Howard Baker, Bill Brock, Bill Frist and Fred Thompson, Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Republicans at the state level.
"He had a way of having people buy into his excitement," NewsChannel 5 Political Analyst Pat Nolan explained. "His earnestness and it would pay off in the end."
Welch was also an avid real estate developer.
"I would say without Ted's involvement in a couple of areas, the first convention center might not have been built or might never have been successful as it was," Nolan said. "And of course if the first one was not built, or not successful the second one would've never happened."
His friend, U.S. Lamar Alexander, said in a written statement that Welch raised millions for candidates, symphonies and charitable causes without seeking anything in return.
Alexander said Welch will be missed.
(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)