It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing of Sue Welburn. On Saturday, July 25th, 2020, the 6-year anniversary of the passing of her husband Doug Welburn, Sue suffered a mild stroke. Things declined rapidly late that night, and she passed away the next night on Sunday, July 26th.
Sue had no previous health issues and this has taken us by surprise.
Sue and Doug were together 50 years, and she missed him every day after he passed on July 25th, 2014. Although we are saddened by her loss, we take comfort knowing she is finally with him.
Sue and Doug started Welburn Gourd Farm around 1976. In the early years of the business, Doug was still working in construction so Sue was the one to take phone calls, select gourds to be shipped (mostly to Hawaii), and help customers who came to the farm during the week.
Doug helped out with customers on the weekends, and was more of the face of the company, but Sue worked equally as hard on building the business in those early years (maybe even more so).
She wasn't one to demand a lot of attention or ask for credit for her contributions, choosing instead to let Doug be the one in the lime light.
Sue was reserved, choosing to open up only with people she really felt comfortable with. With those she did find friendship with, she was sincere and came from her heart in her desire to want the best for them. Shown above, Sue chatting with friend, Mary Segreto, during a Welburn Gourd Festival.
Shown above, Sue with daughter, Phoebe, decorating the Christmas tree in the Welburn Store, December 2019.
Although not what she would call a gourd artist herself, Sue did create some gourd pieces over the years, her favorite being pine needle work on gourds. She liked the quiet therapy that seemed to go along with pine needle weaving and basketry work.
Sue did many jobs at Welburn Gourd Farm, her primary position being Bookkeeper (and that alone was a lot of work!), but what many might not know is how big of a role Sue played as business partner with her daughter, Phoebe, especially in the last 2-3 years.
Phoebe stepped in as President after her dad passed, and in the same way she had with Doug, Sue selflessly gave the credit to Phoebe for running the business, and also to Danny, the Operations Manager at the farm and long-time family friend, and Daniel Sr, who is now retired but previously the farm's Foreman for over 30 years and the one who deserves the bulk of the credit for Welburn's wonderful quality gourds.
But Sue was the one behind the scenes, encouraging Phoebe when she needed it, helping her make tough decisions when they had to be made, letting Danny, Daniel, and the staff know how much they were appreciated, and much more.
Shown above, Sue outside the Shipping building where she would often work at the Gourd Farm.
In addition to her key role as business partner with Phoebe and her duties as bookkeeper, Sue was involved in all kinds of tasks at the farm. In the years after Doug's passing, Sue gradually took his place doing "assemblies and kitting" jobs in the shipping and warehouse building. At first it was too much of a painful reminder of the partner she had lost, but eventually as healing took place, she started to step into that work.
She enjoyed feeling part of the Team at the farm and even said she liked the "cheerful" music that was often blasting in the shipping building where she would sit to work (usually Latin pop or some other high energy music... WAY outside what was usually her comfort zone of Spanish guitar or light jazz!).
She commented how much she appreciated the patience the staff showed her as she plodded along slowly at her tasks, and how they were happy to change or turn down the music if it got too loud for her or get paperwork she was missing or help her in any number of ways,
Sue greatest passion was for horses. She was an accomplished dressage rider and participated in several judged events, which she was always nervous to enter, saying she wasn't good enough. She was definitely her harshest critic, and she was happily proven wrong the day these 2 photos were taken when she brought home a second place ribbon.
Sue with her husband, Doug, and her daughters Laura (on left) and Phoebe (on right).
Shown here, Sue's daughter, Laura, and Sue's grandchildren Nathan (top left), Rachel (top middle), Patrick (bottom left) and Mitchell (bottom right).
Sue with her sister, Nicolette, chatting during a Gourd Festival.
Sue with daughter, Phoebe, and long-time family friend, Robert Imbriale.
Shown above, Sue having a laugh with Rob. Sue would often comment how much she appreciated Rob's humor and lightening the mood when she needed it.
Sue in her happy place, with her horse, Melody, on the land she and Doug worked so hard to purchase, live at, and raise a family on.
Sue will be greatly missed by her family and friends and the entire staff at Welburn Gourd Farm. If you would like to leave a comment or send a message to the friends and family of Sue, please use the form below: