Road Dedicated to Lawrence Welk

Wetzel, Dale. "Road Dedicated to Lawrence Welk." Forum, 6 June 1995, sec. B-1.

BISMARCK, N.D. – Visitors to Lawrence Welk’s boyhood home soon will be able to drive along a stretch of road named for the bandleader.

On Monday, Gov. Ed Schafer signed a proclamation that designates U.S. Highway 83 in Emmons County as the “Lawrence Welk Highway.”

The road runs through Welk’s hometown of Strasburg, east of the farmstead where he was brought up.

It has been restored as a museum honoring Welk and the heritage of the area; it was extensively settled by ethnic Germans who emigrated from Russia, beginning in the late 1800’s.

The proclamation sets aside this week to honor the bandleader, who died three years ago.

His daughter, Donna Welk Mack of Boise, Idaho, and Jayne Walton Rosen, a former singer and dancer in Welk’s band, attended Monday’s ceremony in the Capitol, along with a number of Welk cousins.

Mack recalled her father’s early hurdles to success.

“He continues to work hard. Even though at one time, his entire band walked out on him because they felt he was too much of a high to ever make it in the music business,” she said. “Yet that courage and perseverance kept his dream alive.”

Green-and-white signs displaying the road’s new name will be posted soon at the north and south borders of Emmons County, said Ray Zink, chief engineer for the Department of Transportation.

Emmons County is in south-central North Dakota, southeast of Bismarck.

The Missouri River forms its western border.

The ceremony was scheduled to coincide with a Bismarck reception Monday night hosted by the North Dakota State University Libraries, where Welk’s papers are kept.

The school gave him an honorary doctorate in 1965.

Mack presented Schafer with a white conductor’s baton, inscribed “Musically Yours, Lawrence Welk,” and a boxed set of music.

Welk’s band became widely known through broadcasts of a weekly television show.

Welk and his family “maintained a commitment to the family values and wholesome entertainment that was so consistent with his Germans from Russia heritage,” Schaefer said.

“Even though at one time, his entire band walked out on him... Yet, that courage and perseverance kept his dream alive.”
Donna Welk Mack
Lawrence Welk’s Daughter

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