Eric William Welke, 71, of Downingtown, PA, passed away peacefully the morning of February 3, 2023, surrounded by loving family.
Born January 19, 1952, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was a son of the late Herman William and Dolores Rachel (nee Koch) Welke. With unbounded energy and limitless enthusiasm, Eric grew up a resilient force who always left a lasting impression on those around him.
At the age of 17, Eric joined the U.S. Army and fought overseas in the Vietnam War. Despite being wounded in combat, he completed two tours of duty in Vietnam and continued serving his country through a lengthy, esteemed military career. A well-respected soldier, he was awarded several commendations including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, and many others. He also completed advanced Army Special Forces training as well as earned the prestigious Ranger tab. Eric retired from a career with the U.S. Army as First Sergeant.
After military retirement, Eric continued his commitment to hard work by engaging in other challenging professions, tackling multiple projects, helping his neighbors, and joining respected organizations. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge 353, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW 845), and the Chester County Corvette Club.
Uniquely skilled at all things mechanical, working on cars was his passion—and he excelled at breathing new life into old classics. He also enjoyed doing yardwork, going fishing, building models, watching football, and spending time with his family.
He is survived by his children: Hildi Kelsey (son-in-law Benjamin) and Raymond P. Gravinese, III (daughter-in-law Angela); his grandchildren: Madeline Kelsey, Daniel Kelsey, Dominic Gravinese, and Gavin Gravinese; his brother, Mark H. Welke (sister-in-law Lynne); and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his wife, Nancy Welke, and his sister, Susan Welke.
Relatives and friends are invited to his viewing, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday, February 15, 2023, at The Donohue Funeral Home, 1627 West Chester Pike, West Chester, PA 19382, with a Masonic Service at 5:45 p.m. A military funeral honor ceremony will be held promptly at 11 a.m., Thursday, February 16, 2023, at Washington Crossing National Cemetery, 830 Highland Road Newtown, PA 18940.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to VFW 845 (4601 Lincoln Hwy, Downingtown, PA 19335) in honor of Eric.