Eva Welk, Last of Lawrence Welk’s Siblings, Died Friday, Remembered as Humble

Burke, Allan. "Eva Welk, Last of Lawrence Welk's Siblings, Died Friday, Remembered as Humble Care-Giver." Emmons County Record, 16 March 2006, 1, 3.

This picture, taken Feb. 18, 1954, shows the Champagne Musicmaker Lawrence Welk playing a reel-to-reel tape recording for his sister, Eva. Eva was in the audience for his shows many times and took part in Ralph Edwards’ “This Is Your Life” television salute to her brother.

The last of Lawrence Welk’s siblings, Eva Welk, 96, of Aberdeen, S.D., died March 10, 2006.

Eva had lived in Aberdeen since the early 1940s.

Ironically, her death came the day before what would have been the Champagne Musicmaker’s 103rd birthday, which is when the Pioneer Heritage, Inc. annual dinner was held.

In addition to making regular visits to see her brothers and sisters in Strasburg, Eva made numerous trips to California to visit Lawrence and Fern Welk and their family.

She appeared on the March 6, 1957, episode of Ralph Edwards’ "This Is Your Life" when her famous brother was featured. She also was in the audience for several episodes of "The Lawrence Welk Show."

Eva lived with her parents, Ludwig and Christina Welk, on their farm southwest of Strasburg, which is now operated as an historic site by Pioneer Heritage.

She was born Christmas Eve, 1909, hence her name, Eva. Everyone remembered her birthday, but she did not like to give her age. If someone asked how old she was, she would respond, "And how old are you?"

Devoted to her parents, she attended only a few years of school. The Welks moved to Strasburg in the 1920s, and their son, Mike and his wife, Catherine, took over the farm.

Eva cared for her parents until their deaths. Ludwig died in 1937 and Christina in 1940.

She moved to Aberdeen because her brother, John, and his family farmed nearby. For most of her adult life she made her living by caring for elderly people, going to their homes to cook and clean and to do anything else she could for them. She made an extra effort to cook what her clients wanted to eat and the way they wanted it. Her services were so popular that she had a waiting list.

Eva was noted for her baking and cooking, and she often cooked for family gatherings. Lawrence especially enjoyed his sister’s German cooking.

Her hobbies were tatting and crocheting, and her creations were usually gifts for relatives and friends.

Eva was a humble, quiet person. She did not drive, so she lived near her church, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and a grocery store. She enjoyed her apartment. Her brother, Lawrence, once exclaimed that he had never seen an apartment so small. Eva said it had plenty of room for everything she needed, which did not include much furniture. Eva worked as long as she could before retiring, and even then she would help out elderly people.

Lawrence sent her many things over the years, but she passed them on to relatives and friends. She read all of his books but gave them away as soon as she finished reading them.

She did keep pictures of her family, including her dozens of nieces and nephews and their descendants. Even in her final 11 years in a nursing home, she kept her photos.

She never married, so her nieces and nephews were like her children and their children like her grandchildren.

The passage on her funeral program was appropriate for Eva, the care-giver: "Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life." -- St. Francis of Assisi.

Seven of the eight children of Ludwig and Christina Welk got together at a family gathering for this picture. Left to right are Barbara Deringer, Eva Welk, Agatha Ternes, Lawrence Welk, Anna Mary Mattern, John Welk and Mike Welk. The eighth family member, Louie Welk, was deceased. Eva Welk sits in her Aberdeen apartment between a champagne bottle given to her by her famous brother and a picture of Lawrence Welk from the 1930s.
Eva loved her tiny apartment in Aberdeen and never wanted more than she had. Eva stands behind her mother, Christina, at their home in Strasburg. The late Willie Wolf purchased the house after the deaths of Ludwig and Christina Welk. After Willie’s death, the house was razed.

Our appreciation is extended to the Emmons County Record for permission to reprint this article.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller