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Mary Welch Joseph

JOSEPH — Mary Welch is well-known around Joseph, especially at Christmastime. She’s Mrs. Claus during the Jingle Thru Joseph parade.

In fact, it was her marriage to Santa — Dennis Welch — that brought her to Joseph six years ago from John Day. Dennis is the lead of the city’s Parks Department there and his bushy white hair and beard make him just right to portray Santa Claus in the parade.

But Mary spends most of the year working as a phlebotomist at Wallowa Memorial Hospital, one who draws blood for lab technicians to analyze. She’s been doing that for about three years.

“But I’ve been accessing veins for 17 years,” she said. “I love it.”

She recently shared her thoughts about living in Wallowa County.

What’s your favorite thing about Wallowa County?

I have a lot of favorite things about the county. I love the lake. I love the small-town feel of living in Joseph.

Are you getting cabin fever yet?

Never. I’m from Northern Wisconsin. The winters here are nothing.

What are you looking forward to once the weather warms?

Taking our boat out.

What do you think of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

It’s horrible. I think any crimes against humanity are horrible.

How is the high price of fuel affecting you directly?

It’s killing me. I have to drive. It’s only 8 miles from my house to the hospital, but I can’t really afford gas. It’s too much.

What’s your advice for people who are thinking about moving here?

Check and see if there’s any place to live before coming here, because there aren’t many places to rent and if you want to buy, you’d better have a lot of money. I know that’s not a very popular thing to say, but it’s the truth.

— Bill Bradshaw,

Wallowa County Chieftain

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