Obituary: William M. Welter

William Michael Welter, born November 18, 1944, in Evanston, IL to Frances and Roy Welter. Raised in Evanston throughout his childhood, Bill’s parents were devout members of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.  He sang in the boys’ choir and graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1962. Bill graduated Cum Laude from Missouri Valley College in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics. He was a proud member and president of Sigma Nu Fraternity.   

Due to his innate ability to think outside the box, Bill was hired by the Leo Burnett Company in Chicago as the youngest client service executive overseeing successful campaigns with Schlitz Beer and Kentucky Fried Chicken, to name a few.  In 1974, Bill moved to Needham, Harper, and Steers where he led the General Mills, Betty Crocker, and McDonald’s accounts. 

Bill joined Wendy’s Corporate Offices in Columbus, Ohio in 1981 as Senior Vice President of Marketing.  Bill was the driving force of the creation and implementation of the “Where’s the Beef” campaign, a timeless phrase that is still part of our current lexicon.  

In the late 1980s Bill partnered with Jack Haunty to form their own advertising agency, Haunty and Welter.  Bill then went onto lead successful campaigns at Heartland Foods before beginning his next venture in Las Vegas.  

Bill became a franchisee of Buffalo Wild Wings, successfully establishing 9 locations throughout the Las Vegas Valley.  Although part of a large corporation, it was a family business at heart.  After many thriving years, Bill and Pam retired to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.  

While successful in his own right, Bill never lost sight of the importance of giving back to the communities in which he lived.  In Columbus he started Santa’s Silent Helpers, an organization that provides food, clothing, and gifts to families and seniors in need.  It is truly amazing how something started so small and has now grown leaps and bounds as they recently celebrated their 40th anniversary.  

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bill dedicated his charitable efforts to the first responder and military communities.  These efforts continued well after Bill left Las Vegas and remained important to him for the rest of his life.  

Since retiring to Door County, Bill served on the board of the Brian Laviolette Scholarship Foundation, has been a faithful donor to Door County Medical Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Door County, and supported the local arts through Peninsula Players and TAP.  He also became an ordained minister, performing over 200 marriages with every service fee being donated to the Door County Humane Society.  While not raising money for various causes, Bill enjoyed fishing and golfing in his spare time.  

While highly successful in his career, Bill’s first and foremost love was for his family.  Bill was married to Pam (Bassett) for over 51 years, the woman he always referred to as the light of his life.  They were blessed with two children, Barclay Martin of Austin, Texas, Robert M. (Kelly) Welter, of Nashville, Tennessee; grandchildren Kherington and Luke Welter.  Bill is also survived by two sisters, Betsy (Welter) Wilson, and Martha (Welter) Tennett, and numerous nieces and nephews. Bill was preceded in death by his oldest sister, Anne (Welter) Vilas.  

Bill felt blessed by his family, but the blessings were truly ours to have had Bill as our husband and father.

Services are pending and will be announced by the family at a later date.  Forbes Funeral Home of Sturgeon Bay is assisting the family.  On-line condolences may be offered at

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Door County Humane Society, Door CANcer Inc., and any of the above aforementioned charities.