I Am an Elk - Meet Curtis Welsh
What happens when a hometown boy comes back home after eighteen years away? He finds a career, he finds love, and he finds the Elks.
Curtis Morgan Welsh’s first memory of the Elks was winning $50 on football when he was about 7 or 8 years old. The son of Jim and Wuanita Welsh, Curtis also remembers swimming in the pool behind the Pascagoula Elks Lodge 1120 when it was in the old white house. Nearly 40 years later, he is now the leading Knight and hopes one day to make E.R.
Born in Pascagoula, Curtis was raised in Gautier, the younger brother of Jimmy, Cary and Bridgette (step-sister), and older brother to Mike. He attended Gautier Junior High School where he was starting cornerback for the Gautier Gators football team. He started ahead of future NFL star cornerback Terrell Buckley in the position. “Terrell owes me,” Welsh says as he sips on a Yuengling, his preferred beer, which was snuggled in an Ole Miss Koozie. “I broke my ankle during a practice, so he got to start instead of me,” he laughs, “otherwise he would have never had a career.”
That did not stop the young Curtis from participating in extracurricular activities at school. He excelled in marching band, playing in the drum line in junior high and later for the Pascagoula High School marching band. The biggest highlight with the PHS Band was being selected to perform at the pregame and halftime shows when New Orleans Saints great Archie Manning’s #8 was retired at the Superdome.
Graduating high school in 1988, Curtis then attended Ole Miss where he continued on the drum line for “The Pride of the South”, while earning his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. While at the University of Mississippi he was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and remembers his first Yuengling beer handed to him by a fraternity brother. He has not lost his taste for it since.
After graduating Ole Miss in 1992, Curtis began working in restaurant management. Three years later, he was not satisfied. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he said, “Still don’t, really. I’ve been winging it
for thirty-something years.” But he soon found his next calling. Listening to stories from his brother Jimmy about the Navy, Curtis made the decision to enlist. He says that Jimmy made submarines “sound
cool” and after completing basic training at Recruit Training Center, Great Lakes, entered the submarine
service. He says of his fellow submariners, “They should all be Elks. If you needed help, they would help
you. If you needed a car, one would be found.”
He was stationed aboard the USS Annapolis (SSN 760) homeported in Groton, Connecticut. While aboard the nuclear-powered fast attack boat, Electronics Technician 2 nd Class Petty Officer Welsh’s primary role was as Quartermaster – and it is not what you might think. In the Navy, the Quartermaster is responsible for the safe navigation of the boat. “I was,” he says as he beamed with pride, “the best Quartermaster in the East Coast Submarine Fleet.”
The Annapolis deployed with the USS George Washington Battle Group in 1997 to the Mediterranean where Curtis spent a little time in Crete, “We pulled into Souda Bay, and we had shore leave. If you’ve been to Greece, you’ve probably had ouzo. I got introduced to it hard.” He remembers the locals seeing his fraternity ring and being intrigued by the Greek letters on it, “They couldn’t understand why I had those letters on my ring. But the ouzo made it not matter.” He almost made it Haifa, Israel when they received orders to “make best speed to the Persian Gulf” at the end of 1997. For 4 months, the Annapolis
was at the tip of the spear during the 1997-98 Iraq Crisis in which Saddam Hussein would not comply with UN weapons inspections and threatened to shoot down US spy planes.
“I had no intentions of making the Navy a career”, he says, and let his enlistment end in 2000 after earning a Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Gold Star, and Good Conduct, National Defense Service, and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals. He then went to work for Applied Materials as a Customer Engineer, installing and maintaining equipment for semi-conductor manufacturing company Micron. After five years, he ended up at Metris, Inc. as a Quality Engineer for the Coherent Laser Radar measuring devices that are manufactured for the aerospace industry.
Curtis then returned to his hometown in 2007 and began working as a Contract Specialist/Contracting Officer for the US Navy (Supervisor of Shipbuilding (SUPSHIP) Gulf Coast). He also returned to further his education at William Carey University where he obtained his Master of Business Administration in 2010. Curtis had returned home to the Pascagoula area primarily because his mother, Wuanita, had begun showing signs of the onset of Alzheimer’s and to assist his brothers in taking care of her.
One evening, while at the Jazz Club to unwind, he ran into Becky Overby that evening, but not for the first time. He did not remember her, but she remembered him from his brother Mike’s wedding where she had been a bride’s maid. The two began to date and married in April 2011.
L - R - Curtis, Becky Emma, Abby
Curtis was a New Orleans Saints season ticket holder and took his dad, Jim, to the NFC championship game in 2009. Jim was a major influence on Curtis’ decision to join the Elks in 2016. Jim served as Lodge Secretary, among other positions. Curtis wasted no time becoming heavily involved sitting in the Esteemed Loyal Knight seat for three years, has been Esteemed Lecturing Knight and is currently the Esteemed Leading Knight. He and his brother Cary recently built new ballot boxes and restored the bench in front of the lodge, tipping his hand to his hobby of restoring antiques and woodworking.
Jim and Curtis at the 2009 NFC Championship game.
Curtis hopes to one day lead the Pascagoula Elks Lodge 1120 as Exalted Ruler. “I would like to reestablish Hoop Shoot and to maintain a positive climb in membership and ENF,” he says of his goals for the Lodge. In addition to being an officer, you can also often find Curtis expediting orders out of the kitchen on Officer’s Steak Night and organizing the shrimp boils.