By Emma Crowder
Ed Marsh heard his phone ringing one day and picked it up to hear a woman in distress.
The professor of commercial music at South Plains College said he was walking to the
cafeteria in the Student Center on the Levelland campus to have lunch with his wife Martha on Feb. 13, 2007, the day before Valentine’s day, when he heard his phone ring. He saw it was a local number, though he did not recognize it, and answered the phone to hear an elderly woman in distress.
The woman said she believed she could be having a stroke and needed help. Unfortunately, the woman on the phone first told Marsh that she was unable to remember her name and rural address. She was also unable to remember anyone else’s information.
She had called Marsh by mistake in an attempt to reach her granddaughter, although she was unable to remember her phone number correctly. Marsh told the woman to stay on the line and continued to ask her questions in an effort to try to find out who and where she was.
Bits and pieces of the woman’s background began to surface during the conversation. Marsh kept the woman on his cell and went to find another phone to dial 911. Finally, the woman gave Marsh her son’s first name, adding that he worked for the Texas Department of Transportation.
This provided enough information for a member of the Levelland EMS crew to determine who this woman was and where she lived.
Her name was Shirley Welch, and she lived in a house off of FM 2646. As it turns out, Marsh was somewhat familiar with this woman’s family. Mrs. Welch’s daughter had married a McLane, who was related to Marsh’s friend, Homer McLane, who used to teach at SPC. Marsh had attended McLane’s physics class and at one point and was given the opportunity to play music at the 60th wedding anniversary party of Homer and his wife a few years back.
“I told her not to get off the phone with me till they got there,” Marsh recalled recently.
Mrs. Welch was taken to Covenant Hospital-Levelland for her treatment. Her son, Neil Welch, told a local newspaper that Mrs. Welch did not suffer a stroke, but she had a medical condition in which pressure on the brain can cause stroke-like symptoms.
Her children were extremely grateful that Marsh had stayed on the phone with their mother and was able to assist in getting help to her.
Now 13 years later, Mrs. Welch’s daughter, Cathy, recently reached out to Ed Marsh on Facebook, saying, “Thank you, sir. Mother lived about five weeks after this. She died on March. 19, 2007. She told me that this was the most frightened she’d ever been, and that you were very kind. Sometimes I think about what she would have done if not for you that day. I’m glad it happened the way it did.”
When asked what made him answer the phone that day, Marsh said, “I don’t know, and honestly, like most people, I often don’t. But after that happened, I actually do a lot more.”
After Mrs. Welch passed away and he realized how much it meant to the family, Marsh said, “It’s sort of popped into my head that as you get older, you lose friends more frequently. So I think about that often when I find out someone is sick. I don’t just think, ‘I hope they get better,’ but I now also think I hope their family gets a chance to get closer.”