Divorce was not an option. And if you couldn’t afford his legal fees, he’d agree to accept home-made cookies or freshly baked bread as compensation.

Roger P. Welch was an old-fashioned lawyer.

Mr. Welch died Saturday at Maine Medical Center with his family at his side. The lifelong resident of Westbrook was 87.

He “didn’t believe in divorce. He’d tell them to go home and work it out. He refused to handle divorces,” said his daughter, Kelly Cain of Scarborough.

Mr. Welch graduated from Westbrook High School in 1941. He went on to Bowdoin College in Brunswick and earned his law degree from Boston University Law School.

In the early 1950s, Mr. Welch turned down the chance to practice law in Boston, joining his father, Grover Welch, at his newly named law firm, Welch and Welch, Attorneys at Law, on Main Street in Westbrook.

“He told me he loved the big city, but I also think he felt a loyalty to his father,” said his son Kevin Welch of Hollis.

Cain remembers the time her father came home from work with cookies — compensation for his services from a client who was short on cash.

“He’d say to us, ‘We’ve got a roof over our heads, we’ve got food on the table and we’re warm enough. We’ve got everything we need,’” his daughter said. “My mom would just laugh and say, ‘At least I don’t have to (bake cookies now).’“

Kevin Welch said his father used to make house calls on behalf of his clients. “He went to see this one guy to do his will,” his son said. “The guy met him at the door with a shotgun.”

Despite his shock at seeing an armed client, Mr. Welch was able to complete the client’s will.

He retired from his law practice in 1990, closing the doors on the business his father started in the 1920s.

Over time, Mr. Welch became active in the Westbrook community. He became a member of the local Kiwanis chapter and served as chairman of the Westbrook Urban Renewal Authority for more than a decade.

Mr. Welch married his grade school sweetheart, Shirley Foye, on May 9, 1953.

In his spare time, Mr. Welch played golf with his wife. He was a member of the Portland Country Club for more than 60 years.

“He loved the camaraderie of the game, and he loved the people he met,” his daughter said.

Mr. Welch’s family described him as the ultimate people person.

His son recalled the time he went to a Portland Sea Dogs game with his father. After he crossed the street near the stadium, he turned to find his father had fallen behind.

“Traffic had stopped because my father was in the middle of the street talking to the cop who was directing traffic,” his son said.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]