Former Graham County Superior Court Judge Dudley Struan Welker died May 22, 2023, at his home in Mesa at age 90. Dudley was born October 11, 1932, in Safford, the son of Struan and Zella (Moody) Welker, who both came from pioneering Gila Valley families. After his mother was killed when he was three years old, Dudley was raised by his grandparents, J.R. and Louisa Welker and Edward and Hazel Moody.
He graduated from Thatcher High School in 1950, Eastern Arizona College in 1952, Brigham Young University in 1954 with an accounting degree, and the University of Arizona College of Law in 1959. After passing the Arizona bar exam in 1959, he joined prominent Graham County attorney Guy Anderson in practicing law in Safford.
Dudley met his wife, Marilyn Post, a Tucson native, while attending the University of Arizona. They were married on September 16, 1960, in the Mesa, Arizona Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and settled in Thatcher. They remained in Thatcher until 2006, when Dudley retired from practicing law and they moved to Tucson. Marilyn died in 2010, and Dudley moved to Mesa in 2011.
Deeply appreciative of his heritage, Dudley’s contributions to the Gila Valley were numerous. During 40+ years of private legal practice, he represented many prominent Gila Valley business and enterprises, including the Graham County Electric Co-op, Valley Telephone Cooperative and the Gila Valley Irrigation District. In 1988, he was elected as Superior Court judge, a position he held for a decade. From 1959 to 2012, except for those 10 years on the bench, Dudley was the town attorney for Thatcher. He and Marilyn also owned and operated Consolidated Title Agency (now Pioneer Title) from 1972 to 2003.
A life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dudley served a church mission in the Northwest States from 1954 to 1956 and taught the adult Gospel Doctrine Sunday School class for years. He served as president of both the EAC Alumni Association and the EAC Foundation and gave more than 40 years of service to the two organizations. Dudley was active in the Mt. Graham Cabin Owners’ Association and enjoyed working on the Welker cabin at Turkey Flat, owned by the family since the 1930s. He was an avid reader interested in all types of history—legal, military, church, family and local.
Dudley is survived by his children, Susan (Carl) Turley of Huachuca City; Holly Welker of Mesa; Kathryn (Matthew) Hess of Bountiful, Utah; LoraLee (Spencer) Jesperson of Mesa; and John Welker of Tucson; 15 grandchildren; and 9 great-grandchildren.
The funeral will be Friday, June 2, at 10 a.m. in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse at 2220 N. Harris Drive, Mesa, with burial at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 3, in the Tucson Binghampton Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to a scholarship established last year at EAC in Dudley’s honor. Donations can be made by sending a check to the EAC Foundation, 615 N. Stadium Ave., Thatcher, AZ 85552, or online at eacalumni.org/donate, with a designation for the Dudley S. Welker Memorial Scholarship. Bunker Funeral Home, 33 N. Centennial Way, Mesa, is handling arrangements.