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Captain Raymond Burke "Buddy" Welborn, USNA '59, USN (Ret), PhD, N*

  • Captain Raymond Burke "Buddy" Welborn, USNA '59, USN (Ret), PhD, N*

By Capt Joseph R. John, October 30, 2018 Op-Ed #408

It is with truly deep sadness, that we inform you that on October 23, 1918, a US Naval Academy Football standout, Captain Raymond Burke “Buddy” Welborn, USNA ’59, USN (Ret), PhD, N*, who was awarded the Thompson Trophy for Athletics in 1959, passed away peacefully of complications from an aortic aneurism at age 82, in League City, TX; his son Raymond Burke, Jr., USNA ’85 was by his side.  Capt Welborn was born in Bryan Texas, on August 13, 1936, and attended Rice University for 1 year before entering the United States Naval Academy in 1955, joining the Class of 1959.

Captain R. “Buddy” Welborn, USN (Ret), graduated from the US Naval Submarine School, was Submarine and Surface Warfare Qualified, was selected as a ship’s Commanding Officer, was an author, a college professor, a Trustee of the US Naval Academy Foundation, and a 7 year member of the Combat Veterans For Congress PAC Board of Directors.  Following weekly Navy Football contests, Capt Welborn became well known for posting football game reports, for distribution on the Internet to many USNA Alumni groups.  Those reports had been acclaimed for the exactingly informative analysis; they were reminiscence of the style of legendary sportswriter, Grantland Rice.

Midshipman “Buddy” Wellborn did not enter the US Naval Academy on a football scholarship, was given no padded grades, had no professional football career to look forward to following graduation, yet he played with consistent dedication and loyalty for and with his Navy football teammates, for Navy’s Football Coach Eddie Erdelatz, for members of the Brigade of Midshipmen, and for the US Naval Academy.  He was a member of another of “Navy’s Football Team” through the ages, that loyally played to win together.

For three of his varsity football years (in 1955 Plebes/freshmen were not allowed to play varsity football), Midshipman “Buddy” Welborn played on Navy football teams with winning seasons:  1956 (6-1-2); 1957 (9-1-1); and, 1958 (6-3).  He was on the Navy’s 1956 team that beat Notre Dame (and Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung) 33-7 in Baltimore, and then the next year he was selected as AP’s “Back of The Week” for scoring all three touchdowns in Navy’s 20-7 win over Notre Dame in South Bend.  He shared the rushing honors for the Navy team that shutout Army (Anderson and Dawkins) 14-0 in 1957, and then he helped his teammates beat Rice 20-7 for the Cotton Bowl Championship in 1958.  The next season he shared rushing honors, and scored the winning touchdown in Navy’s team effort, that defeated Michigan 20-14 in the “Big House.”

It was “Buddy’s” commitment, character, and trust in his Navy teammates, and in Navy’s team work, that led to their outstanding football team’s successes over the three years of his varsity football career.  It was also that same commitment, character, and trust that led to Captain Welborn’s outstanding successes in life.  Capt R. “Buddy” Welborn always believed in hard work and preparation on the football field, and in his life’s endeavors.

And what awaited Midshipman Buddy Welborn and his Navy football teammates after they graduated?  It wasn’t a NFL professional career with millions of dollars in a negotiated NFL professional football contract----it was the “Honor” of teaming up with the best the US Navy and the US Marine Corps had to offer, so he and they could protect and defend the US Constitution, and keep the Republic strong, safe, and respected.

Preceded in death by his parents and wife Gladys (March 1993).  Capt Welborn is survived by his sons Burke (Julie) of Gulf Breeze, FL, Robert of Dickinson, TX, and John (Julie) of Canton, NC, and 7 grandchildren.  The family will receive friends on Thursday, November 1, 2018 from 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM at Forest Park Lawndale Funeral Home in Houston, TX with funeral service beginning at 11:00 AM. Interment will follow at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery.  Memorial donations in memory of Captain Raymond  B. Welborn, USNA ’59, USN (Ret), PhD may be made to the United States Naval Academy Foundation Athletic and Scholarship Program, 25 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401.

Now Captain R. Buddy Welborn is at peace with his Lord and Savior, and is on that same field with the many great football players that “Buddy” followed and admired from afar in his youth to his retirement. We will miss Captain Welborn’s positive attitude and strong support.  The Good Lord protected Buddy in life, blessed him in passing, and rested his Noble Soul!!!