Dr. Marshall D. Welch Jr. sat on stage and watched as each of the 290 Lycoming College graduates received their diplomas during the college's 164th commencement ceremony.
The life-long Williamsport resident received a honorary doctor of science degree during the ceremony but said the best part was to see the graduates be "enthusiastic about getting degrees" as they received their diplomas.
"It's a good feeling," Welch said.
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
Dr. Marshall D. Welch Jr., center, receives his honorary doctor of science degree during Lycoming College’s commencement ceremonies May 6 on the Quad. He is shown with emeritus trustee Robert L. Shangraw, left, and Dr. James E. Douthat, college president.
The name Welch can be seen on many buildings in the city - from the Mary L. Welch Theatre on Lycoming's campus to the Welch Children's Wing at the James V. Brown Library. Welch said it's because he and his wife understand the value of education.
"I've always been a firm believer in education," he said.
Welch said it's important to be passionate about your work and that his education is what allowed him to do what he loves.
"You have to do what you want to do. If you go up to try welding and you like it, do it," he said. "I think that's one of the reasons I had such a good life - I loved dentistry. I always did what I wanted to do but education is what helped me do it."
Welch has lived in and loved Williamsport since birth in 1929. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a dental degree in 1954, Welch joined the Navy.
He then returned to the University of Pennsylvania for further studies.
When deciding where to setup his dental practice, Welch said there was no question where he would go. Although he had options, he returned to Williamsport.
"I chose here because I liked the area," Welch said. "And I could've made more money in the other places but money wasn't that important to me. Williamsport had the better quality of life."
Welch said he doesn't remember a day he wasn't excited for work.
"I practiced for 54 years. I never had a day where I didn't want to go to the office," he said.
Some of the things he likes about the area are the people and the ever-changing weather.
"I love the four season here," he said.
Along with the seasons comes different outdoor activities, as well.
"I always loved the outdoors - hunting and fishing," Welch said. "I just like the area. If you want to do something 20 minutes after work, you can."
Welch said it just made sense to give back to the community when he could. Welch and his wife donate to both Lycoming College and Pennsylvania College of Technology along, among other organizations.
"Life's been good to me. The community's been good to me and it's now my opportunity to give back to the community," he said.
When old friends are back in town, Welch said he likes taking them for tours of the city to see how it's changed. But he hopes it doesn't grow too fast.
Either way, Welch doesn't plan on making a move from the city.
"I was born here, I live here and I want to die here," he said. "I've been to Europe and South Africa. I love Williamsport."
From the Navy to wood working to building small planes, Welch has enjoyed each part of his life. He hopes others will, as well.
"Life's an adventure," he said. "You go through each stage and love each stage."