Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Community mourns death of Craig Welkenbach

 The death last week of Craig Welkenbach is being mourned throughout the area.

Mr. Welkenbach, who served as the City of Westland Community Media Director, died March 2. He celebrated his 59th birthday Feb. 18. A beloved figure at events throughout the community, he was a popular and highly respected member of the city administration. 

    Mr. Welkenbach began his professional career with Continental Cable in Dearborn Heights prior to joining the City of Westland where he led the community media department for more than 25 years, garnering numerous accolades for his exceptional work in video production.

    Memories and tributes to Mr. Welkenbach filled social media sites as news of his death spread in the community. Westland Mayor Michael Londeau expressed his deep sorrow at Mr. Welkenbach’s death.

    “Craig was known and loved by many. He was at every event and function in Westland and greeted you with his infectious smile. He had a way of making everyone feel comfortable and important. It didn’t matter if you were a congressman, or a young child raising money for their basketball team, Craig made you feel heard and accepted,” Londeau posted. 

    “He loved to talk about sports, politics, movies, music, TV, and family. Movie quotes and song lyrics were often cited in the office, and it was common to take some time to watch a show at lunch or rehash last night’s reality TV show over coffee. Craig was very proud of the work he did, but he would never say it himself. He always put his team first. They were much more than staff to him, it was an extension of his family. 

    “We are all better for having known Craig and the world is a sadder place today with him not in it. We draw solace in the fact that his pain from cancer is gone while our pain and grief is just beginning,” Londeau concluded.  

    In addition to his professional endeavors, Mr. Welkenbach enjoyed a passion for movies and cherished moments spent up north relaxing or golfing with friends. An avid sports enthusiast, Mr. Welkenbach also had a deep love for animals. His greatest source of happiness, however, was the treasured time he spent with his family, friends recalled.

    Mr. Welkenbach was known for his quick wit and ability to find humor in any situation, along with his quick comebacks and infectious smile. Friends said his presence will be dearly missed by all who knew him.    

    Westland City Clerk Richard LeBlanc recalled his long friendship with Mr. Welkenbach in a social media post.

    Craig was a friend, a professional, and a loving family man. It's not fair that after battling cancer for half of his life that he has been snatched away.

    “We met when I was a member of the Cable Commission in the 1980s He was a behind the scenes guy, and never wanted the limelight. But he deserved it.

    “Our world has lost some of its luster,“ LeBlanc posted.

     WDIV meteorologist and former Westland resident Ashlee Baracy credited Mr. Welkenbach for career advice he gave her early in her career. 

    “He was the one who saw my potential long before I could see it in myself,” she posted. “Craig Welkenbach took a risk on me by giving me my first TV gig. He was the one who also said I should be a meteorologist when it wasn’t even on my ‘radar’ and felt so far out of reach. He was truly the foundation to this career and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. I can only hope he knows that I’ll forever be grateful. But more importantly, he was a genuine friend,” she said.

    Among Mr. Welkenbach’s survivors are his devoted wife, Elizabeth "Beth" Welkenbach; his loving son David (Kristen) Welkenbach; his stepdaughters Hannah and Molly Pummill, and his adored grandson Lincoln Welkenbach. He was a cherished brother to Mary (Duane) Lamb, Karen Wells, Jim (Lorri) Welkenbach, Scott (Aranya) Welkenbach, and the late Brian Welkenbach. Craig is also survived by his mother-in-law, Carol (the late Pete) Borgelt; brother-in-law Steve Borgelt and many nieces and nephews, along with a host of dear friends and associates.

    A visitation to honor the life and career of Mr. Welkenbach is planned for 1 until 8 p.m. tomorrow, March 8 at L.J. Griffin Funeral Home, located at 7707 Middlebelt Road (South of Ann Arbor Trail), with a time of family sharing from 6 until 7 p.m.