CHAPEL HILL – Former Chapel Hill alderman Alice Welsh passed away on Monday, leaving behind a long legacy of leadership on campus and in town. She was 93.
Welsh was appointed to the Chapel Hill Board of Aldermen in 1970 (before it was renamed “Town Council”) and served on the board until 1975. Beyond that, she also served on Chapel Hill’s Planning Board, Chapel Hill’s Community Appearance Commission, and the Town Council’s Growth Management Task Force, all part of a decades-long career in public service.
Welsh was instrumental in shaping Chapel Hill’s downtown development in the 1970s; she was also active in human rights efforts, at a time when desegregation was still ongoing. But of all her contributions, Welsh is perhaps best known for her efforts to develop Chapel Hill’s park and greenway system—working on the Town’s behalf to acquire property that eventually became part of numerous parks, including Cedar Falls Park and the Bolin Creek Greenway.
Click here to read a memory of Alice Welsh’s work on downtown development–including her use of a helium balloon at one press conference to demonstrate just how tall a proposed new building (which she opposed) would have been.
The Chapel Hill Town Council recognized Welsh with a special resolution in 1995, and the Chapel Hill Historical Society named her a “Town Treasure” in 2011. In 1992, friends of Alice and her late husband George established a professorship in their name at UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Born in Indiana, Welsh earned a bachelor’s degree from Ball State and a master’s from Louisiana State before settling in Chapel Hill—for good—in 1953. She remained active in public life for more than half a century thereafter.