By Becky Harris
Marianne Welch is surrounded by history. Her new old home at the corner of Davis and Mill Streets was built in the 1920s in the Craftsman style.
It is filled with antiques, some from family, others she discovered in little shops as she traveled throughout the South, taking weekends to visit cemeteries where ancestors remain.
Both sides of the family are Arkansans. The goal of the treks was to add information to the family histories, to make a connection with the past and enhance the genealogy, an interest Marianne has had for 20 years.
"Geneology provides me with a sense of my people in a certain time, for instance, how they lived through the Civil War. It was great to hear a story about a great-great-uncle who led the cows down into a ravine to hide them from the Yankees," Marianne said.
Daughters Molly and Maggie weren't always so enthusiastic.
"Mom would say: 'Let's go to Memphis!' and we'd get excited and then we'd spend hours tramping through graveyards," Molly said.
Marianne winked and said: "Oh, you'll appreciate it all one day and take care of it. And then your daughter will."
Molly is a junior at UCA, majoring in Early Childhood Education. She lives at home, enjoying the heirlooms and photographs that go back several generations. She's excited about working with little schoolchildren. Daughter Maggie attends Henderson University in Arkadelphia, texting her mother that she LOVES being an English major.
"Maggie's my reader," Marianne said. She's following footsteps of her mom, a book lover and discussion leader of The Book Club, a monthly gathering of women that Marianne cheerfully and gently keeps on topic.
Marianne is the Clinical Laboratory Director at Conway Regional Medical Center. She supervises a large 24-hour staff that conducts diagnostic specimen testing that provides information to the physicians.
She is fluent in Spanish, having lived in Spain from ages 5-8 while her father was stationed there. She travels often to Mexico, recently joined a medical mission to Guatemala, and she and the girls helped with a house-building mission in Juarez.
Marianne's choice of a cottage in Old Conway could be expected. She's a member of the Old Conway Design Review Board, President of the Old Conway Preservation Society, and a member of the board of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas.
She knows the architecture of Old Conway and is earnest about keeping the flavor of the older neighborhoods for those who will come after her.