AJC Houston Luncheon Introduction of Welcome Wilson Senior
I think you will have a better understanding of Welcome Snr. after hearing about his background and why we honor him today. 1. He milked 2 cows each morning before school 1943, worked on a hog farm at 13, picked up slop from Houston Hotels in 1941, Shot crabs with Judge Walter Hofheinz Vegas 1954, performed 4 wedding ceremonies under Texas Lawn 2004 but I do not know if any of those couples are still married (laughs), lived in an army surplus trailer at the University of Houston Campus, bathroom was a block away, except on a cold rainy night, ate only bananas for 13 days in college 1947, no explanation why, told his family that he spent the night in a Tokyo Geisha house and paid extra so he could sleep alone, he says that this is a true story. He is a 4th Generation Houstonian, his great grand kids are 7th generation, not many people can say this. Most important background fact to me is that he escorted Gina Low to the Academy Awards in 1982, that’s not bad. He is still running the Salt Grass Trail after over 50 years in the saddle and everyone knows it’s a proven fact that anyone who has milked 2 cows each morning, worked on a hog farm and pick up slop from Houston hotels would be successful later in life on any endeavor he became involved in.
Also, welcome Johnny Goyen and Jack Valenti my late brother in law, all went to the University of Houston after World War II, became known as the 3 Musketeers at their days at the U of H and later became business partners. Actually, he had one business decision failure, in that he made my late brother Bill and I build numerous supporting projects for his company in Houston and Galveston, in hind sight it was a good decision for my brother and I, because Welcome and I are still good friends even though one of our sub-contractors accidently set fire and burnt the building down. (laughs). The good news is this gave my brother and I the opportunity to make additional building fees, it’s always a plus.
Now let’s talk about the man Welcome Wilson Snr. he’s a person of great vision coupled with the remarkable talent and patience to follow through and make his vision a reality that benefits everyone both in the business, University of Houston and his many charitable, political and philanthropic organizations. His charitable time and money and leadership are legendary, Welcome is a gentleman of the old school, he treats everyone with the same respect no matter their status, this is one of the many reasons why we honor him today.
Welcome and I have been friends for over 50 years and at times he has made me feel like I was family and I had the good fortune to watch his children grow up. As I have said Jack Valenti and Johnny Goyen were all important young entrepreneurs during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. They had the great opportunity to have a mentor in R. E. Bob Smith, Bob Smith for those who don’t know of him was very successful in oil and real estate and was co-founder and co-creator along with Judge Roy Hofheinz of the 8th Wonder of the World, the Astrodome, Johnny Goyen became a long time City Council member, Valenti went to the LBJ White House to work with President Johnson and later became the President of the Motion Picture Association.
And maybe that explains why Welcome got to escort Presidents. As you see I only have great admiration for Welcome for what he has done for this City and Country; but I have a deep affection for Welcome as a friend, his accomplishments are all important but far too numerous to list and discuss during this introduction. You will find many of these important accomplishments in your AJC luncheon hand out, I wish that we had another 20 or 30 minutes to discuss them all. They all unique and also significant in the life of this man, here are just a few, he was a stand-up Comedian, Singer and a drummer for a 17 piece College band, Naval Officer, (8:27) for United States Presidents, founded a family real estate business which has developed over 10 million sq. ft. of office warehouse space, member of the Texas Business Hall of Fame, real estate developer of most of the West Bay Galveston area, a recipient of the lifetime achievement award from the Houston Business Journal, plus 10% owner of the Houston Astros, he was also Chairman of the Board of Houston Regents at the University of Houston for 3 years, and chaired the Committee to make Houston the tier 1 University. One of the 4 top 4 universities in the State of Texas with our tier 1 status, he also was the idea man and the leader in creating for the University of Houston Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, which has made our family very, very proud.
Knowing Welcome as I do it’s easy to conclude that the most important people in his life are his wife and his college sweetheart of 66 years Joanne, his 5 children, 16 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. Not many of us have created this type of legacy, in a few minutes you will hear about his oldest son, Welcome Jnr who is being honored today, with all these children, grandchildren and great grandchildren Welcome Snr will have to keep working for another 87 years and I will be around to continue to be his friend for the next exciting creative years. Ladies and Gentlemen the 2015 co-recipient of the America Jewish Committee Human Relations Award is Dr. Welcome Snr. (Applause)