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Hess Club
5430 Westheimer Ct
Houston, TX  77056
United States of America

Welcome Wilson, Sr.

Houston Real Estate Developer for 62 years.  Chairman of Welcome Group, landlord to  4,035,000 square feet of Manufacturing and Industrial Facilities in 87 locations in Texas.

First projects in the 1950s and 1960s were Master Planned Communities, Jamaica Beach and Tiki Island in Galveston County, both of which are now separate cities. He later developed apartments, retail centers, hotels and three downtown office buildings.

Honors include: Inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Houston Business Journal and Awarded an Honorary Doctor’s degree from the University of Houston, where he was a BBA grad in 1949.

Of note, he received the UH Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1970, the UH Bauer College of Business Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996 and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley in 2018.

In the past, he was Chairman of the Board of two Houston banks, was Chairman of an American Stock Exchange company and was on the Board of Directors and owned 10% of the Houston Astros baseball team.  In March 2019, he will celebrate his 91th birthday.

He was a long-time Chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Houston, Chairman of its Drive to Tier One and is now Chairman of its Political Action Committee. He is a Director Emeritus of the Greater Houston Partnership, having served a long time as its Higher Education Chairman.  

In the 50s and 60s he served in the Executive Office of the President under Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.  He witnessed the Atom bomb test in Nevada and the Hydrogen Bomb test at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

In 1958, he was awarded the Arthur Fleming Award as One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in Federal Service.  Out of 600 who received this award since 1948, Wikipedia lists him as a “notable” twenty along with Astronaut Neil Armstrong (moon landing), Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Fed Chairman Paul Volcker.

He was invited and spoke to a joint session of the New Mexico Legislature.  He was appointed Special Ambassador to Nicaragua by President Lyndon Johnson.  After World War II, he served for two years as a Naval Officer in Japan, having graduated first in his class in officer’s school.

He married his college sweetheart on the day he graduated from UH, 70 years ago. They have 5 kids, 16 grandkids and 16 great-grandkids, one of whom is in college.


1.  Things You May Not Know About Welcome W. Wilson, Sr.

By Cindi Wilson Proler Ray

Witness to Hydrogen Bomb Test at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific 1956

Milked two Cows each Morning Before Hitchhiking to High School 1943

LBJ Special Ambassador to Nicaragua (President Somosa) 1966

Hired to Regularly Performed Live Singing Commercials on TV 1949

Five Children, 16 Grandchildren, 16 Great-Grandchildren & Only One Wife 1949

Served in the Executive Office of the President under Ike and JFK 1956

Three Year Chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Houston 2007

Inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame 2011

Chairman of the Board, Homestead Bank of Houston 1964

Naval Officer in the Occupation Forces of Japan after WWII 1951

Invited & Spoke to a Joint Session of New Mexico Legislature 1959

Hitchhiked 720 miles Round Trip First 30 Weekends in College to see Girl 1946

Received Arthur Fleming Award as One of Ten Outstanding Young Men in US Federal Service (Award Later Given to Astronaut Neil Armstrong and Sec. Robert Gates) 1958

Married College Sweetheart, Joanne, on College Graduation Day 1949

JFK Came to his Hotel Suite at Washington Hotel for Small Gathering 1960

Saved Best Friend’s Life Using CPR 1988

At age 80, Traveled Half Mile on ZIP Line through Costa Rica Forrest 2008

Founding Board Member of the UH Phi Beta Kappa Society Chapter 2016

Given the Trailblazer Award by the American Advertising Federation-Houston 2013

 Monday thru Friday Workout at various Health Clubs for 55 years 1963

Worked for Hog Farm at age 13, Picked up Slop from Houston Hotels 1941

Developer of Jamaica Beach and Tiki Island in Galveston, TX 1957

Worked with Houston Mayor Lewis Cutrer to Integrate Lunch Counters 1963

Longshoreman on Brownsville, Texas Docks for Banana Boats 1945

Arrested for Touching Cop with his Car, Hired Racehorse Haynes, Acquitted 1979 

In Front Page Houston Post Picture with LBJ at opening of Astrodome 1965

Distinguished Alumnus, UH Bauer College of Business 1996

Ten Percent Owner of Houston Astros Baseball Team 1970

Department Head at Houston City Hall at age 27 1956

Age 30, Named by President Eisenhower to the Civilian Rank of 3-Star General 1958

Almost Lost at Sea While Swimming 100 miles off Texas Coast 1989

Member of Harris County Grand Jury Commission 1970

In College, Performed as Comedy Act Singer in Night Clubs 1948

Lifetime Achievement Award from the Houston Business Journal 2012

Back Stage with Willie Nelson during Houston Concert at the Summit 1995

Worked for the US National Security Agency in Japan during the Korean War 1951

President of the Student Body at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville, TX 1945

Talked with JFK and Jackie in Houston the Night Before He Was Assassinated 1963


2. More Things You May Not Know About WWW, Sr.

By Cindi Wilson Proler Ray

Testified Twice Before a Federal Criminal Grand Jury (Sharpstown) 1972

Led Drive to Raise Money to Install First Weather Radar in Texas 1955

Watched Eisenhower Hit Golf Balls Daily from WWW Sr’s DC Office 1958

Conducted Hearing Which Changed Hurricane Reporting by the Weather Bureau 1958

Shot Craps with Judge Roy Hofheinz in Las Vegas 1954

His Signature is on 35,000 Diplomas from University of Houston System 2007

Attended Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, NJ - LBJ was nominated 1964

Performed Four Wedding Ceremonies under Texas Law 2004

Developer and Owner of the Sixth Marriott Hotel in the World (Today 5,500) 1967

Billy Gibbons & Dusty Hill played at Daughter’s Debut Party before ZZ Top 1971

Named a Texas Icon by Houston Local Magazine 2016

Named Distinguished Alumnus by University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley 2018

Gets up Monday - Friday at 4:25 am, Picks up Welcome Jr at 5am to go to Club 1983

Lived in Army Surplus House Trailer on UH Campus. Bathroom a Block Away 1946

Had Lonesome Dove Author Larry McMurtry as House Guest 1990

Chairman of University of Houston Sugarland Campus Restructure Taskforce 2015

An Honorary Citizen of Galveston, New Orleans and Springdale, Arkansas 1959

Business Partner of Johnny Goyen, Mayor Pro-tem of Houston for 22 years 1957

Eats over 50 Red and Green Frozen Grapes Each Day 2011

Named Texas Business Icon by National Real Estate Forum Magazine 2012

Played Ping Pong Daily w/World Champion Chess Master Oswald Jacoby 1952

Friend of Original Seven Astronauts. Alan Shepherd was Neighbor 1963

Slopped Hogs & Fed Chickens Twice Daily During High School 1941

Met with LBJ at Jack Valenti’s House about Civil Rights 1963

Chairman of the Board of an American Stock Exchange Company 1969

Went Nameless for 22 days When Parents Could Not Agree on Name 1928

Executive Assistant to Texas Oilman/Philanthropist Billionaire R.E.(Bob) Smith 1953

Texas President of the Pan American Student Forum 1945

Developer, Foxhall Apartments on I-10 at Chimney Rock in Houston 1968

Hunted Duck in Arkansas with Arkansas Governor Orville Faubus 1958

Snow Storm Flight to DC with Oklahoma Governor for JFK Inauguration 1961

His Birth Announcement had Pink Ribbon because Doctor said he would be a Girl 1928

Shot Pheasant in Scotland with Chairman/CEO of Sotherby’s 1980

Investigated by the Los Angeles Times as being LBJ’s Silent Partner 1965

Knew Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, Bush & Bush, Met Nixon & Trump 1954

Legendary US House Speaker Sam Rayburn Came to WWW’s Texas Office 1959

Witness to Atom Bomb Test in Nevada 1954

3. Even More Things You May Not Know About WWW, Sr.

By Cindi Wilson Proler Ray


Partner of Jack Valenti, President of the Motion Picture Association of America 1957

Board Chairman of Colonial Savings Association of Houston 1965

Named Distinguished Alumnus, Texas Southmost College 2005

Ate Nothing but Free Bananas for 13 Days to Save Money in College 1947

Rode the Annual Salt Grass Trail Ride 52 Times 1967

Founding Chairman of UH Graduate Real Estate Program Board of Directors 2010

Installed Houston Air Raid Sirens Heard every Friday noon for 30 years 1955

Lived and Raised Five Kids on Houston’s River Oaks Boulevard for 30 years 1966

Special Assistant to Houston Mayor (Judge) Roy Hofheinz 1954

Took $3 Airplane Ride in Ford Tri-motor Plane 1935

Sat on Stage at Houston’s Jones Hall when Tenor Luciano Pavarotti Sang 1981

Visited with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in his Pentagon Office 1962

Weighed Twelve Pounds When Born in San Angelo, Texas 1928

Was Executive Director of the United Citizens Association of Houston, and

Led a Slate of Mayor and City Council Candidates to Abject Defeat 1955

Experienced Earthquake Tremors in Yokohama, Japan 1951

Ex-Texas Governor John Connelly Talked Him in to Becoming a Republican 1973

Designed and Built a Two Story Federal Office Building 50 feet Underground 1960

Rafted Through Rapids for Five Days on River of No Return in Idaho 1980

Named Distinguished Alumnus, University of Houston 1970

President of Mortgage Broker River Oaks Financial Group, Inc. 1984

Chairman of Desperado Horseback Riding Group for Forty-Eight Years 1970

Given the Alice Graham Baker Crusader Award by Neighborhood Centers, Inc. 2013

Developed Kingsbrook Apartment Complex on Katy Fwy in Houston 1964

Canoed Regularly Fifteen Miles down Buffalo Bayou with Best Friend 1985

Witness to Spacecraft Endeavor Liftoff from Cape Kennedy, Florida 1990

Selected One of Ten Outstanding Students at UH 1949

Shot Pheasant for 15 years in England, Scotland and Ireland 1982

With his wife, Joanne, Named a Houston Treasure by the Houston Social Book 2015

Hip Replaced 30 Years after Horseback Accident 2000

Graduated First in his Class at Naval Officers School 1951

Has Known Every Texas Governor Since Allen Shivers 1953

Trap Drummer for 17 Piece College Dance Band 1945

Was the Subject of Oval Office Conversation Between LBJ and J. Edgar Hoover 1965

Ran Three Miles Daily with Best Friend Jimmy Lyon for 23 years Until He Died 1993

Escorted Movie Star Gina Lolabrigida to Awards Dinner 1982


4. Yet More Things You May Not Know About WWW, Sr.

By Cindi Wilson Proler Ray


Eisenhower Administration Appointee, Five State Head of Civil Defense & FEMA 1956

Had 38 Aunts and Uncles and 47 First Cousins 1939

Received the Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee 2015

Has been Alive for More Than 32,500 Days 1928

Mother’s Family Entered Texas before the Civil War 1850

Quoted in Time Magazine about the Cold War and National Defense 1959

Board Member of the Greater Houston Partnership, now Director Emeritus 2008

At the Presidential Inaugurations of JFK, LBJ, GHWB, GWB and Donald Trump 1961

Testified Before Five Texas Legislative Committees 2009

Is a Fourth-generation Houstonian – Great-grandkids are Seventh 1869

To Win a Bet, Ate 17 Pecan Balls at River Oaks Country Club 1975

Chairman of University of Houston Drive for Tier One Status 2010

At Age 5 Scared Witless By Boris Karloff in Bride of Frankenstein movie 1933

He and his wife received the Community Service Award from the UH Tech College 2015

Negotiated the Sale of Houston’s Fifth Largest Bank 1990

Beat Prostate Cancer after Year of Radiation & Hormone Therapy 2007

Trapped 8 Days in Boston Hotel with 12 Feet of Snow at the Door 1978

Higher Education Chairman of the Greater Houston Partnership 2010

Drafted in World War II, Orders cancelled when Atom Bomb Ended the War 1945

Discovered High-rise Fire, Ran up 16 Floors to Evacuate Residents 1975

Attended Catholic Mass at Noon 7 Days a Week in Japan for 20 Months 1951

Spent a Night in a Tokyo Geisha House, Had to Pay Extra to Sleep Alone 1951

Board Member of AA White Dispute Resolution Institute 1997

Founding Chairman University of Houston Heritage Society 1988

Hitchhiked in Bombardier Seat of Air Force B-26s All Across America 1951

Early Board Member, Houston Convention Bureau 1966

With a One Tank of Gas and $40, Spent Three Weeks in Mexico with Brother 1948

Houston Chairman of March of Dimes Campaign 1954

Lived in Japan for Two Years, Wife and Son joined 1951

Bank Partner Bill Sherrill was later Member of US Federal Reserve Board 1965

Defense Battalion Commander in Yokosuka, Japan 1951

Developed Three Villa Marina Apartment Complexes in Galveston 1966

Stopped a 4 Engine Airline Plane as it Taxied from Gate by Arm-waving in front 1956

 Had Kids or Grandkids at Kinkaid School Every Semester for 54 Years 1963

Played Base Fiddle in 14 Piece Band in College 1945

Received the Real Estate Outstanding Service Award from Houston CoreNet 2013

Grand Marshal of Astronaut Gordon Cooper’s Houston Parade 1963

Business Partner with Charlie Wilson of Charlie Wilson’s War 1963