He Survived A Brutal Father and the Most Violent Cellblock at San Quentin
By Boaz Wadel
Beatings by his father put him in the hospital at a young age. "State-raised," he was incarcerated intermittently from the seventh grade onward, until he reached the most dreaded cellblock at San Quentin.
"My father was a very bitter, angry man, especially when he was drinking," says Ed Welch, who is currently struggling with a diagnosis of terminal cancer at age 65. Ed's truck-driver father was a loyal member of the Teamsters, and even became chairman of Jimmy Hoffa's fundraising committee when Hoffa faced imprisonment.
Welch got into his first fight with dad at age 10, in an attempt to defend his mother. "He nearly knocked me out, and from that point on we had a different relationship. I hated him because of what he did to mom."
In fourth grade, Welch was kicked out of school for fighting. A year later he was arrested. By seventh grade he was in juvenile hall, which began a journey in and out of the prison system for many years.
"My father was turning me into himself, which I didn't realize at the time. He turned me into a very bitter, angry person." Welch says his mother never left her husband because she believed that "any father is better than no father."
Nominal Catholics, the family went to mass on Christmas and Easter, but Welch says there was really no connection with God.
At 14, a girl he liked invited him to a Billy Graham crusade at the L.A. Coliseum. Graham's message that day was directed at people without fathers or "bad fathers," and Graham highlighted the Heavenly Father's unconditional love for us.
"I never cried and I was in tears," Welch recalls.