Wild Salmon Center

Donor Spotlight: Deke Welles

Donor Spotlight: Deke Welles

Establishing a legacy of wild places for the next generation.

David “Deke” Welles is a thoughtful, revered leader in his home territory of greater Toledo, Ohio. He presided over the family door manufacturing business, Therma-Tru, before its sale in 2003, and he is past chairman of the board of the internationally renowned Toledo Museum of Art.

But he’s most at home on the water, hunting waterfowl and angling for trout.

Deke Welles, Nushagak Alaska | Wild Salmon Center

“I have an A-type personality,” he says. “But when I fish, I live in the moment, lose track of time and always come away feeling refreshed and better-whether I hooked anything or not.”

When Welles met WSC President Guido Rahr, he was drawn to the way Rahr articulated both the threats and opportunities facing Pacific salmon and steelhead ecosystems. He joined the WSC board in 2013 and last year made a leadership gift to The Stronghold Fund.

“The most important feature of The Stronghold Fund is that we will employ it in the here and now. Our challenges in protecting stronghold ecosystems are immediate and we can’t afford to wait,” Welles says.

Welles’ leadership with WSC, the Wetlands America Trust and no less than seven other hunting and angling clubs and organizations is all with the intent of passing wild places-and his passion for them-on to the next generation.

“I hope my legacy will be to get the next generation outdoors, enjoying what I have been so fortunate to enjoy and becoming nature’s stewards and advocates for generations to follow.”

David “Deke” Welles is a trustee of the Wetlands America Trust (WAT), the foundation arm of Ducks Unlimited. A life-long water fowler, Deke is a member of the Winous Point Shooting Club of Port Clinton, Ohio, the oldest duck club in North America. He serves as president of the Winous Point Marsh Conservancy and Waterhen Lodge duck club in Manitoba; an advisor to the Black Swamp Conservancy; and is a member of the Castalia Trout Club, the Anglers’ Club of NY, and the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier, Penn.

Deke retired as chairman of closely held Therma-Tru Corp upon its sale to Fortune Brands (FO) in late 2003. During his business career, Deke was a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), served on the boards of the Homebuilding Community Foundation and the National Building Materials Distributors Association, and chaired the Policy Advisory Board to the Harvard Joint Center on Housing Studies. Deke presently serves on a few closely held corporate boards and he recently stepped down as chairman of the Toledo Museum of Art. He is a former director of the Chief Executives Organization (CEO), a former trustee of Phillips Exeter Academy, the Toledo Community Foundation and the Center of Science and Industry, Toledo. Deke graduated cum laude from Yale in 1974. He resides in Vero Beach, Florida.