- Melissa Vickery-Bareford
Welk, Lawrence (11 March 1903–17 May 1992), band leader and television personality, was born in Strasburg, North Dakota, the son of Ludwig Welk, a blacksmith and farmer, and Christine Schwab, both of whom had emigrated from the Alsace-Lorraine region of Germany in 1878. A variety of childhood illnesses kept Welk from attending school until he was seven, when he went to a parish school run by Ursuline nuns from Germany. Raised in this entirely German environment, he did not learn to speak English until he was twenty-one and never felt comfortable speaking in public. In 1914, when he was ten years old, a ruptured appendix left Welk bedridden for many months, and, once recovered, he and his family decided he had had enough schooling and would not return. It was during his year-long convalescence that Welk realized that he was meant not to be a farmer but a musician. He had always been interested in music—the family had a pump organ and his father taught him to play the accordion—and when he was still too weak to help on the farm, Welk would spend hours practicing his music. While still working on the farm, Welk began to play at barn dances and weddings, and eventually he left farming to become a musician full time....