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Q&A with Sanibel resident, book lover Yolande Welch

By Staff | Jun 25, 2009

Yolande Welch is one of those folks who believes in rolling up her sleeves and helping out when work needs to be done. The Sanibel resident is donating her time to help out Island Nook bookstore owners Melanie and Jan Wiford who had to leave the business due to a family emergency. Welch delights in engaging fellow residents and visitors in discussion at the book shop.

Where did you spend your childhood?

On lots of land in West Falls Church, Va., surrounded by pine woods on one side and miles of woods and a creek on the back side.

What’s your family life like?

My Father was a Marine for 37 years, married to my French Mother that he met during the first World War.

My present family is my husband of over 50 years, three amazing, successful children and eight wonderful grandchildren.

What brought you to Sanibel?

Our daughter, who was a realtor on Sanibel at that time, and found a lovely piece of property for sale before the prices got out of sight.

We subsequently built a house long distance, quit our jobs and moved here all at the same time.

What did you do for a career before moving to Sanibel?

Prior to the move here, I was the Executive Assistant to the Director of the Memphis Botanic Garden for 10 years; most of that time we did not have a director! Prior to that I worked at St. Mary’s Episcopal School for Girls in Memphis, considered one of the most prestigious girls’ school in the south and where our daughter attended.

Prior to that I was raising our children for a number of years after

I had been in the Foreign Service working at the American Embassy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

We know you are an avid reader. What do you enjoy reading most? Why?

Mysteries, intrigue and anti-terrorism – any books that have action in them – plus biographies and ANY interesting article in a magazine, any piece of paper, I don’t care where it is. Why do I like to read? Because I LOVE to read and to learn something new every day.

We also know you are volunteering your time to run the Island Book Nook while the owners Melanie Wiford and Jan Wiford are dealing with an out-of-state family emergency. What’s it like to run a book store? Any interesting customers yet?

Yes, every customer who comes in is interesting. I like to find out where they are from and get them involved in conversation and, of course, sell them some books.

The most interesting last week was the lady who wanted to use me as her psychiatrist, telling me all her problems and asking my advice – such a compliment.

What do you with your spare time? Any interesting hobbies or pastimes?

Well, of course, there is always housework! I have made a lot of friends since coming here and like to do things with them, and especially with my daughter.

I used to crochet quite a bit, but have more afghans now than I have kids! More importantly, I like to be available if my daughter needs me for helping with her young daughter, Rachel, our granddaughter on the island. She just became eight, will be in the third-grade, is as avid a reader as her mother and I are, and a budding veterinarian. And, always, there is reading, which I never seem to have enough time for. Much of it is done at night when I should be sleeping!

Do you belong to any island social/civic clubs? If so which ones?

I am the past president of the Island Seniors organization, the treasurer of our subdivision property association, was the Secretary of the now defunct AARP organization on the island and volunteered at the library when we first moved down here. I like giving back to any organization remembering how much we depended on volunteers both at the botanic garden and at school.

Any special goals or trips in the works?

We would like to visit Alaska, but it’s not in the budget at the moment. I have many cousins in France and that is always an option when we can afford the air fare. Maybe some place cooler this summer…

If you could do one thing over in your life what would it be?

Get married earlier and have more children! More college and aim higher……..

You seem to be a bubbly, outgoing person. What’s your secret to living a happy life?

Staying busy, doing unto others as I would like to be done unto me, and remembering that the harder I work, the luckier I am.