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FRAMINGHAM – On Saturday, Ted Welte will be laid to rest.

Welte was a leader, one who wanted to help everyone, not to collect titles.

Over his lifetime, Welte created change, and positive change.

The need to serve began early in his life. Between 1966-68, Welte served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria and Somalia.

In the 1980s, he served eight years as the President of the Metro South Chamber of Commerce. In 1990, he became President of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, and transformed that organiztion during his 20 year tenure.

“To say that there would be no thriving MetroWest region today without Ted Welte sounds like hyperbole, but it’s not,” said Senate President Karen Spilka.

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“Throughout his thoughtful leadership of the MetroWest Chamber, he worked collaboratively with people to resolve complex issues and move this region forward. Whether it was helping municipalities, fostering economic development, envisioning transportation opportunities, saving our military installation or creating a workforce pipeline through an internship pipeline, Ted put his heart into every project he led at the Chamber,” said the Senate President.

“More importantly, Ted was kind, caring and demonstrated a quiet strength as he served as tremendous advocate for MetroWest. His impact on our region and our lives is an incredible legacy to leave behind. He will be missed, and never forgotten,” said Senator Spilka, an Ashland resident.

“Although very serious about his work, Ted also knew how to laugh and have fun, and he was a great storyteller too.  He was kind, authentic, and generous of spirit,” said Helen Lemoine, who is the Executive Director of Leadership MetroWest.

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“It was Ted who offered Leadership MetroWest office space in the Chamber of Commerce suite. That was how I first got to know Ted when I became the LMW Executive Director in 2000. He not only welcomed me, but he treated me like I was part of the team, not just a tenant, and it stayed that way for 10 years until Ted’s retirement,” said Lemoine. “Many of the people on the Chamber team and on the Board during those years are still my friends today, as is Ted’s wife Kathy, who visited the office often. Ted loved talking about Kathy and sweetly introduced her to people as “his bride.”

Lemoine said “We learned a lot from each other – personally and professionally – and we introduced each other to so many people who visited each other’s office.  There was tremendous synergy between our organizations. We both showed up at everything — community events, forums, and fundraisers. It was part of our jobs, but also, we loved our community. We would laugh about it the next day if one of us was at an event and the other wasn’t there, since it didn’t happen often.”

“Ted and I worked on several committees together throughout many years and he always was creative and thoughtful collaborator. Ted helped bring together a workgroup to study the creative economy. Little did I know that it would be the precursor to several initiatives in MetroWest, including the Framingham Centre Common Cultural District,” said Lemoine, who added the first big initiative was the regional MetroWest Visitors Bureau.

“Ted would be proud to see the fruits of his early idea blossom,” said Lemoine. “For so many years, Ted was a fixture in Framingham and MetroWest. We’ve missed him since he retired, but now there is a sad void in a lot of hearts.”

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“Ted was a gentle and thoughtful powerhouse. His leadership was never about him, but about making a difference. He used to joke with me that my Dad, as the Chamber Board Chair when Ted was hired, “gave me my marching orders,” but in truth they made a great team,” said Katherine Garrahan.

“Ted was able to marshal the enthusiasm of local volunteers and bring everything to the next level for MetroWest. He worked for traditional Chamber concerns such as the transportation, permitting, and tax environment needed for businesses to be attracted to and succeed in MetroWest. He marketed MetroWest to the greater world to fill large corporate voids left by recession in the 1990s, helped attract high tech industries to the region, and worked with the local educational community on ways to promote preparation for science, technology, and engineering careers. He advocated around social issues that impact employers and employees such as workforce development, health insurance reform, and immigration reform. He focused on visionary advocacy such as for the development of a regional transit authority,” said Garrahan. He formed unique alliances across his Chamber member base such as between local businesses and houses of worship and clergy to honor youth who are leaders in inclusion, equity, and diversity as one of the founding members of the Alliance for MetroWest Unity. And, he leaves a Chamber alumni family who are forever grateful to have known Ted and loved him.”

“I was very sorry to learn of Ted’s passing early this afternoon. I first met Ted when he was President of the Chamber. He was a listener,” said former Select Board Chair and former at-large Councilor Cheryl Tully Stoll. “He cared what members thought about the Chamber and its services to business owners. I send condolences to his wonderful wife and partner Kathleen, their family and all others who loved him.”

Welte co-founded the 495/MetroWest Corridor Partnership, which now provides economic development and public policy support to a 32 community region. 

Welte created the MetroWest/495 Transportation Management Association which provides services to area companies including ride matching for carpools, the guaranteed ride home and alternative transportation events. 

Welte, while leading the Chamber supported the creation of the MetroWest Economic Research Center at Framingham State College which has tracked changes in the area economy for over a dozen years. 

Welte created the MetroWest Alliance for Workforce Diversity which brings together employees and employers who value and are enriched by differences in the culture of their work and community life.

Welte was a lifelong member the Rotary Club of Framingham, serving as President in 1994. 

Fellow Rotarian Phil Ottaviani Jr. said “this is a huge loss for our community. Ted during his tenure at the Chamber took this organization to new levels. He was a fellow Rotarian and always was trying to find ways to give back to the community. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

“I was sadden to hear of Ted’s passing, he was a wonderful and caring man. Ted made so many outstanding contributions to the MetroWest region,” said former Framingham City Council Chair Dennis Giombetti. “He was a community builder whether it was building the Chamber of Commerce, helping to rebuild Downtown Framingham or his work with the Framingham Rotary Club. He left his mark all over MetroWest.”

Welte’s advocacy for businesses in metroWest was far reaching.

  • Led local efforts to keep Natick U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center off the Base Realignment and Closure list in 1995 and 2005. 
  • Fought for and won significant changes to highway district zoning along Route 9, which made possible the rebuilding of the Natick Mall and Shoppers World, as well as new office buildings adjacent to Apple Hill in Natick. 
  • Kept the 9/90 site from being turned into another regional mall, leading the way for Staples, NMS Communications and Computer Associates to locate in Framingham. 
  • Helped bring Boston Scientific to Natick and supported the TJX expansions in Framingham and Natick. 
  • Supported expansion of EMC in Hopkinton, as well as Southborough and Westborough. 
  • Supported zoning changes in Framingham Technology Park which allowed expansion of Bose and Genzyme. 

Welte served as president of the Chamber from 1990 to 2010, but he also had an impact on its current President & CEO Jim Giammarinaro.

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“When we started Freedom Printing in 2001 we immediately joined the Chamber. I met Ted early on and he could not have been more welcoming and supportive. He had a great understanding of the important factors related to running a successful small business. Under Ted’s leadership there were so many opportunities for me to network as well as participate in useful training. Ted was always sure to introduce me to anyone who might be a good contact for our business,” said Giammarinaro. “As time went on in addition to participating in networking and training, Ted asked if I would like to be on the Small Business Council at the chamber. This provided me with the opportunity to get even more involved with the chamber and its members. Ultimately I was nominated to the BOD and had an opportunity on a regular basis to watch and admire Ted’s leadership. Ted was always a true professional who put members well being at the top of his priority list.”

Welte also had a hand in Framingham becoming a City. He worked to gather signatures to get the question on the ballot for voters and advocated for Framingham to no longer be a town but the Commonwealth’s newest City.

Friends and family can pay their respects to Welte on Friday March 11 from 4 to 7 p.m. at McCarthy & McKinney & Lawler Funeral Home at 11 Lincoln Street in Framingham

On Saturday March 12 at 11 a.m. a Celebration Ceremony at Presbyterian Church in Sudbury at 330 Concord Rd. followed by a reception at the First Parish Church Fellowship Hall at 327 Concord Rd. – across the street from the Presbyterian Church.

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Welte celebrating with Dennis Cardiff and Janet Leombruno on turning in signatures to get a vote for Framingham to become a city on the ballot.

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.