Emmalin C. Welch

Posted:  Monday, August 7, 2017 - 11:00am

Emmalin Christiansen Welch of Newcastle, Maine, died at midnight on Aug. 2, 2017. She was 95 years old.

Although Emmalin was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, she spent most of her childhood in the mill town of Rumford, Maine. She was the daughter and only child of Mildred and Reidar Christiansen. A Norwegian by birth, Reidar traveled to the United States to earn an engineering degree, but upon meeting the petite Mildred Smith of Rumford, fell in love and broke his family's heart by opting to stay in Maine.

A bright and energetic child, young Emmalin spent much of her youth traveling back and forth to her grandparents' large estate in Bergen, Norway. She was studying weaving there when Norway was invaded by Germany in 1940. German officers commandeered the family home. The Christiansen family was allowed to remain, but the last thing Emmalin's grandparents did every night was barricade the young women's rooms. In the mountains, her cousins and uncles donned skis and raided German encampments.

Back in Maine, Reidar wrote letters to the State Department, seeking a way to bring Emmalin home. Finally, daring arrangements were made to smuggle her to far northern Norway and leave for the United States on a troop ship. The dramatic rescue made the national news.

A year later, Emmalin and her handsome, blue-eyed boyfriend Walter Welch of Rumford both joined the Armed Services -- she in the Navy and he in the Army Air Force. Emmalin spent World War II in Detroit as an airplane inspector, while Walter was assigned to the desert Southwest to work in secret on the Manhattan Project. When they could arrange leave, they were married back in Rumford, both proudly wearing their uniforms.

After the war, Emmalin and Walter took advantage of the GI Bill and enrolled in the University of Maine in Orono. Emmalin completed her BA degree with straight A's and a double major in 2 1/2 years, the same amount of time it took Walter to complete his MS.

When Walter landed a position at the National Marine Fisheries Laboratory in West Boothbay Harbor, the young couple moved to the Boothbay peninsula, settling in a big, white farmhouse on Adams Pond Road. Three children--Martha, Steven, and Christine--soon followed.

Emmalin put her keen mind and frugal nature to great use managing her household on a slim budget. Much of the family's food was raised and little was wasted, most famously, wrapping paper, which was re-used so many times, it became nearly transparent.

As her children grew, Emmalin devoted her spare time to many service positions. She was especially proud of her many years on the school board and as both Girl Scout and Cub Scout leader. She was also an excellent cook andwonderful hostess, frequently serving relatives, friends, and scientists from around the world feasts of lobster and home-grown vegetables.

Emmalin and Walter were devoted to their children. All three graduated from college and earned advance degrees. As the children grew, married, and had children of their own--seven grandchildren in all-- Emmalin volunteered hours babysitting and transporting grandchildren to their many activities. She also helped out with her daughters’ home maintenance, showing up in her little blue BMW to scrape and paint.

When her beloved Walter died in 2007, Emmalin moved to her own apartment at her daughter Christine Welch and son-in-law Merle Parise’s farm in Newcastle. There she spent her last years, well cared for and well entertained by the farm’s cats, dogs, horses, chickens, and ever-changing wildlife recuperating under Dr. Welch’s care.

At a later date, the family will hold a private gathering and, as was her wish, spread Emmalin’s ashes at sea in the same spot where her husband Walter’s ashes were spread.

If friends wish to honor Emmalin Welch’s memory, the family suggests making a gift in her name to the Lincoln County Animal Shelter or another non-profit of their choosing.

Hall's of Waldoboro has care of the arrangements, To extend online condolences, please visit