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El Welton

Sunday, July 15, 2012

ORANGE, Calif. -- Eldredge Hinkley "El" Welton, 95, died at 11:30 a.m. July 10, 2012, at his home.

Born March 21, 1917, in East Milton, Mass., he was son of the late Alton "Roy" Welton, who finished fourth in the men's marathon of the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, England, and Louisa Williams Hinkley Welton.

He spent his youth in New England, graduating from the Greenbriar Military School in West Virginia. After earning a degree from the Bryant and Stratton Business School in Boston, he began a career in business with Airco and Sherwin-Williams Paints.

On June 14, 1941, at Washington, D.C., he married Virginia Ardel Turner who survives of the home.

Shortly after they married, he enlisted in the U.S. Army departing for the European Theater on the one-year anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

A veteran of World War II's Battle of the Bulge, he served as a medical corpsman under Gen. George Patton in the Third Army, 10th Armored Division.

After completing his tour of duty, he returned to the U.S. in 1945 to resume his career with Wheeler Wire in Bridgeport, Conn., and then in Waterbury, Conn., where he was sales director and plant foreman.

In December 1957, he and his wife moved to Orange County leaving behind the frost of Connecticut to settle in Orange: it was 11 degrees when they left and 75 when they arrived in Los Angeles.

He was then employed by the Autonetics division of North American Aviation. In 1959, while still employed by Autonetics, he purchased the Val Verde Estates Mobile Home Park in Orange where they lived along with his mother for many years.

In 1971, he was laid off by Autonetics, motivating him to risk everything on a business venture: pursuing his dream of designing and building his own recreational vehicle park.

In 1972, on the site of a historic working orange grove in Orange, he opened the Orangeland Recreational Vehicle Park in partnership with his mother using proceeds from the sale of Val Verde.

A few years later he became one of the founding fathers of the California Travel Park Association, which is now known as the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. He served as the CTPA's second vice president in 1974 and later as its president for a one-year term.

He is remembered and revered in the campground industry as a pioneer and lifelong RV enthusiast while his legacy, Orangeland, has on two occasions been recognized by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds with the Best Mid-Sized Park award.

He remained Orangeland's president until his death and was a long-time member of the North Orange Rotary Club.

El and Virginia, whom he lovingly called "Ginny," were world travelers and sailed together up into their 70s.

Survivors in addition to his beloved wife of 71 years include: his children, Cynthia "Cindy" and Mark Wimbish of Huntington Beach, Dr. Stephen T. and Cheryl Welton of Sikeston, Mo., and Janis and Bud Beghtol of Orange; eight grandchildren and their spouses, Robert and Michelle Wimbish of Fairfax, Va., Tim and Kristi Wimbish of Arvada, Colo., Jonathan and Amanda Wimbish of Sherman Oaks, Scott Welton and his special friend, Holly Dirnberger, of Cape Girardeau, Heather and Ron Payne of Sikeston, Grant and Elizabeth Welton of Cape Girardeau, Anna and Joe Wilferth of Signal Mountain, Tenn., and Peter-John Eldredge and Tanisha Welton of Wentzville, Mo.; and 17 great-grandchildren, Mark Philip Wimbish, Jonah Wimbish, Jake Wimbish, Franklin Wimbish, Lila Welton Wimbish, Nathan Hopper-Welton, Ariel Welton, Daniel-James Welton, Stephen Eldredge Welton, Hanna Ginel Payne, Mitchell Payne, Ash-Stephen Welton, Noah Welton, Caleb Welton, Turner Wilferth, Jude Wilferth and Micah Welton.

Preceding him in death in addition to his parents was one son in infancy, Scott Turner Welton.

Private memorial services will be held Wednesday at the Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana, where his cremains will be laid to rest; and in Missouri at a later date.

Memorial contributions may be sent to:

The St. Joseph Hospital

Foundation Hospice

1845 W. Orangewood Ave.

Ste. 100 A

Orange, CA 92868

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