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Nurse's life revolved around giving, helping

| Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Terra Welsh
Terra Welsh

When Terra Welsh learned that many diabetic children could not go to a summer camp because of their condition, she helped start a summer camp for them.

“She would take two weeks of her own vacation time to be with the kids, and she did that for several years,” said her sister, Paula Fleming of Cranberry. “She always thought of other people before herself.”

Terra M. Welsh of McCandless, a teacher turned nurse, died of cancer on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, in Forbes Hospice in Bloomfield. She was 54.

She was born November 6, 1958, to Dr. Frederick H. and Norma Jean Welsh in Butler. Her father was a chiropractor and her mother, a homemaker.

She grew up in West View and graduated from North Hills High School. She received a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Westminster College in 1980. She worked for a year and a half as a substitute teacher in the North Hills School District, and she went to Community College of Allegheny County, where she received a degree as a registered nurse. She then received a bachelor's degree in nursing from La Roche College.

Miss Welsh began working as a nurse in Children's Hospital with young people who had cancer or diabetes. She bought gifts such as pencils, toy cars, puzzle books and Barbie dolls for her young patients with cancer.

“If a child indicated something they wanted in particular, she made sure the child got it if it was a game or a toy,” Fleming said.

She moved to Allegheny General Hospital, where she worked about 25 years, first with children who had diabetes and later at the internal medicine clinic. Tapping into her education background, she taught residents proper bedside manners and young patients and their parents how to address juvenile diabetes. In the past year or so, she worked to provide clothes and medical care for the homeless through the clinic.

Her niece, Dawn Wren of Augusta, Ga., recalled going off to Slippery Rock University 25 years ago.

“I wanted my college dorm room to be purple, and she said she would get me a carpet for my college dorm,” Wren said. “She didn't question it. She just purchased it and brought it up to me regardless of what price it was or what she had to do to get it up for me. If you wanted it, she would do everything she could to make sure you had what you wanted.”

Miss Welsh spent her free time shopping and spoiling her Welsh corgi named Tucker. Every morning, she would scramble eggs, which she would mix into his dog food, and buy him a new toy when she went shopping.

In addition to her sister Paula and niece Dawn, survivors include her mother; a brother, Douglas Welsh of Shaler; another sister, Noellene Zabo of Marshall; and many nieces and nephews.

Friends and family may visit from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in T.B. Devlin Funeral Home, 806 Perry Highway in Ross, where a funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The burial will be in North Cemetery, Butler.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or

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