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Born in Monroe County, New York, Welch was educated in the public schools. He moved to California in early boyhood and settled in San Francisco. He worked on a farm in Freeport, and then was apprenticed as an ironworker, which led to his becoming trained as a machinist. He later served as clerk of the San Francisco County Superior Court. Welch became active in politics as a Republican, including serving as treasurer of his local Republican Club, helping organize campaign events for the ticket of William McKinley and Garret A. Hobart during the 1896 presidential campaign, and organizing San Francisco's Dewey Republican Club in 1898. He served in the California Senate from 1901 to 1913.
Welch was harbor master for the port of San Francisco from 1903 to 1907. He served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1916 until September 30, 1926, when he resigned, having been elected to Congress.
Welch was elected to the Sixty-ninth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Lawrence J. Flaherty. He was reelected to the Seventieth and to the eleven succeeding Congresses and served from August 31, 1926, until his death in a hospital in Needles, California, September 10, 1949.
- United States Congress. "Richard J. Welch (id: W000265)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Richard Joseph Welch, Late a Representative from California. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. 1950.
- Richard J. Welch at Find a Grave
|U.S. House of Representatives|
Lawrence J. Flaherty
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 5th congressional district
John F. Shelley
This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.