April Varn Welch, beloved wife, mother, and friend to many, died suddenly and unexpectedly Thursday, June 30, 2022, in the Florida Keys during a fun-filled family vacation. April lived in Clinton, TN. She was 46 years old.
A lifelong reader and traveler, April was born April Roberts Varn in 1976 in Augusta, Georgia, to parents Margaret Ann Quante and Harry Wade Varn.
April graduated from the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, in 1998 with a B.S. in Geology. Following an enriching college experience, April worked for the National Park Service in Yellowstone National Park as a Seasonal employee and was well known as “Grizz” after her successful attempt to ward off an ascending grizzly bear from unknowing park visitors, protecting both the people and the bear. She later came back to Tennessee and began work in Tennessee State Parks as a Seasonal Ranger and Naturalist at South Cumberland State Park and Recreation Area in Monteagle, TN, and Radnor Lake State Natural Area in Nashville, TN.
Once hired as a full-time Park Ranger at Long Hunter State Park in Hermitage, TN, April attended the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy in Nashville in 2000 where she met and fell in love with fellow officer Clarksville City Police Officer James Welch from Clarksville, TN. April earned the nickname “Wildflower” in the police academy due to her affinity for local flora and sharing this botanical interest with fellow officers. April and James married in 2001 in a beautiful ceremony at the University of the South’s Chapel of the Apostles.
April was promoted to East TN Regional Interpreter for Tennessee State Parks in 2008 and at that time she and James moved to Clinton, TN, north of Knoxville. In this role, April provided many years of guidance, mentoring and inspiration to many up-and-coming state park employees and seasonal interpreters. She also shaped the agency’s direction and quality of education programming which was her passion at the time. Her enthusiasm, attention to detail, honesty and tenacity never faltered. She also served as the Chairman of the Tennessee Park Rangers Association (TPRA) from 2006-2008. April was awarded the prestigious peer-selected “Ranger of the Year” by TPRA in 2007.
In 2010, April and James were blessed with the birth of Arwyn, a long-awaited joyous baby girl. At that time, April made the decision to be a fulltime mother and devote herself to Arwyn and creating a home life that would support their growing family.
Following Arwyn’s birth, April completed her Master of Science in Resource Interpretation from Stephen F. Austin State University’s College of Forestry in 2013. Her thesis was entitled “Exploratory Research on Changing Times Affecting Human Resource Management, Perceptions, and Professional Norms of Tennessee Park Rangers.”
April flourished in her role as wife and mother and provided a wonderful setting at home for her family and their friends. Her laughter and enthusiasm were infectious, and April had a knack of making everyone feel special and heard. Entertaining and sharing food was something April loved and enjoyed. Guests to their home were always in for a scrumptious treat, often a delicious family recipe. April loved reading and traveling with her family. Hiking, mountain biking, and camping were some of their favorite activities. In all her life’s achievements and pursuits, James and Arwyn were her top priorities, and they provided her immense joy and love daily. April was at her very happiest with them by her side.
April is preceded in death by her parents Margaret and Harry, and by her loving Godmothers, Elizabeth (Bitsy) Townsend of Atlanta, Georgia, and Elizabeth (Bunny) Gunby of Washington, Georgia.
In addition to her husband James and daughter Arwyn, April is mourned by her family, including her stepmother Clara Varn, her first cousin Tricia Morris and husband Joe, and many extended family members. In addition, April leaves many dear friends from all phases of her life including her youth, high school, college, park years and her many joyous years as a wife and mother in the Clinton and Norris communities. Well-loved pets, dog Daisy and cat Bailey, round out the Welch immediate family and will also miss their devoted mother.
In place of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Arwyn’s college fund. Donations may be made to Raymond James Financial Services (Attention: Arwyn Welch 529), and mailed to Raymond James Financial Services Inc., 136 Concord Rd, Knoxville, TN 37934-2901.
April will be dearly missed by all and has left an imprint on all those who were fortunate to know her.
A Celebration of Aprils life will be held at Clinch River Brewing August 1st 2022 from 5-8p