When Tim Welch wasn't effortlessly picking up new hobbies -- from motorcycling and music to golf and carpentry -- he was busy playing an integral role in some of the highest-profile property deals in recent Twin Cities history.
As a high-profile real estate attorney, Welch was key to transactions that resulted in construction and development of Target Center, Target Field and the Xcel Energy Center, all of which were high-powered, high-stress deals. But Welch, ever a Renaissance man, treated them with the same enthusiasm and patience as tackling the construction of a chicken coop for his wife in his own back yard.
"He had that experience and confidence, and cared about people" said Todd Phelps, a fellow attorney who called Welch a partner, friend and father figure. "It wasn't about the bottom line with him. It was about doing the right thing to help people."
Welch, 65, former chairman for the real estate department at Leonard, Street and Deinard Law Firm, died Nov. 18 after a six-month battle with cancer. He leaves behind his wife, Melodie Martin, and four grown children.
Welch, who attended Macalester College in the late '60s, spent years as a carpenter, teacher and musician. He eventually decided to become a lawyer, his family recalled, because if lawyers made $100 an hour, he'd only have to work five hours a week. It didn't work out that way, said his son Andrew, 28, but becoming a lawyer, particularly a successful one, never changed the man his father was.
"He was, in some sense, an important figure in the local business community, but it didn't at all taper or diminish the sense of who he was when he was 20 or 25," Andrew Welch said. "That's what always struck me about him. He seemed to move in a lot of different worlds and social spaces while still being very much the same person."
That person was constantly diving head-first into new endeavors, said his wife. Years ago, he took a motorcycle ride with his son and immediately went out and bought a BMW motorcycle. He loved taking her on long-distance trips and they were preparing to spend their retirement on the bike.
Martin recalled that she was preparing to buy some chicks after taking a course on rearing chickens, but had nowhere to keep them.
"Tim said it might be kind of fun to build a chicken coop," she said. "And he did. It was beautiful."
Martin said she still uses the coop today, and like most everything he had a hand in, it makes her think of him.
On the Monday after Welch died, those in his office had an impromptu get-together in his office, Phelps said. A colleague mentioned in passing something he'd never thought of before: In a setting where tempers would occasionally flare, no one had ever seen Welch get upset.
"It's always because he saw the bigger picture," Phelps said. "You just knew everything was going to be OK if he was in the room."
Services have been held.
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921