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Life with Luther
Ann Welsh has spent 49 years as wife of prep football coach

EDITOR'S NOTE: What is it like being married to one of the area's greatest prep football coaches of all time? Anne Welsh, the wife of Thomson High School head coach Luther Welsh, talks about her 49-year marriage and what their lives will be like when coach Welsh retires after this season.

Anne Welsh confesses she knows as much about Luther Welsh as anyone.

She should.

She's been married to the legendary prep football coach for 49 years.

And she's heard everything imaginable about football. She knows when her husband is up and when he is down.

"I love being married to Luther; I couldn't have a better husband," said Mrs. Welsh, who affectionately is known as Miss Anne by many of those close to her. "He's always been a good husband, father and grandfather. He's also been a good provider."

There are times, however, that she said she gets aggravated with him because he is so stubborn.

The couple was engaged for only three months before coach Welsh, now in his last season of coaching football before retirement, asked for her hand in marriage.

"I told him before I could say yes, he would have to ask my daddy," recalled Mrs. Welsh. "Daddy was perfectly fine with it and we got married on a Labor Day weekend. I was 19 at the time and Luther was 29."

Mrs. Welsh said she fell in love with Luther "because he came across so sincere. He wasn't real loud. I just loved his character. I knew he was a good man right from the start and would make me a good husband."

Coach Welsh, who has spent a total of 19 years coaching football at Thomson High School, was serving as an assistant football coach under Sandy Hershey at Edmunds High School in Sumter, S.C.

Mrs. Welsh said she dated several of coach Welsh's friends before he actually asked her out.

The couple was introduced at a bowling alley. It led to a brief dating period before they married. "I knew he was the right man for me, because we just seemed to hit it off with each other," said Mrs. Welsh.

Hit if off, they did.

"I'd go to all the games with Sandy's wife, Mary," recalled Mrs. Welsh. "She filled me in on what you have to do to survive as a coach's wife."

During the football season, Coach Welsh, like his assistant coaches, works long hours.

"They literally think football around the clock, seven days a week," said Mrs. Welsh. "He leaves early and a lot of times, I don't see him until about 10 o'clock at night. For years, every Saturday, he'd drive to meet up with coaches of other teams so they could swap game films. And every Sunday during football season, all the coaches meet at the school for a meeting."

The Saturday chore of swapping of game films since has become the responsibility of one of his assistant coaches, Michael Costello.

The late Herman Reed once made the following statement about his son-in-law: "That is his job. And he does a damn good job at it."

Mrs. Welsh believes that statement sums up her husband.

"He's a great football coach and believes so much in his players," said Mrs. Welsh.

Coach Welsh loves his players so much, in fact, she said, that he has given many of them money out of his pocket to help them in some way or another.

"He just loves people," said Mrs. Welsh. "That's my husband. When he gives them money or goes to the store with them and buys items for their baby -- things like that -- he really believes he's doing the right thing. He's just trying to help them."

She's never said anything to deter her husband from helping his players, even when it has involved money.

"I don't get mad about it or anything like that," said Mrs. Welsh. "I've learned to accept that it's just Luther's way of helping. He likes doing it and I see nothing wrong with it."

She said his genuine concern for helping others is another reason she loves her husband as much as she does.

"He's just a real good man -- a real decent man and I love him," said Mrs. Welsh.

When Coach Welsh retires, the couple plan to move back to their home and small farm in South Carolina.

Mrs. Welsh said she's enjoyed being the wife of Coach Welsh and going to hundreds of ballgames.

"If I had a chance to do it all over again, I'd do it the very same way," said Mrs. Welsh. "I've really enjoyed being the wife of this football coach."

Web posted on Thursday, September 16, 2010

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