Selected book for 2014“American Nightingale,” by Oregon writer Bob Welch, has been selected as the book for this year’s Jefferson Community Read.

Bob Welch may be the most eclectic writer in America. 

"Welch is to writing what the Swiss army knife is to an outdoor adventure," said Mike Yorkey of San Diego, the author of more than 50 books. "Who else has written books for children and World War II enthusiasts, books about sports, fathers and sons, the life lessons from `It's a Wonderful Life' and the adventure of hiking Oregon's Pacific Crest Trail?"

His "one-man-band" approach extends to other pursuits, including speaking to an array of audiences and teaching writing to both adults (through his Beachside Writers Workshops) and to students (as an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Oregon).

Welch, who began his career in 1976 at The Bulletin in Bend, retired last December after 24 years at The Register-Guard in Eugene, where he was the paper's general columnist.

As head of Pebble in the Water Inspiration, Welch has keynoted conferences, workshops and retreats across America, tugging at hearts, tickling funny bones, and inspiring people to be ripples on life’s waters.

Among his speaking highlights was being asked to keynote the dedication ceremony at the Massachusetts Statehouse for a plaque honoring WWII nurse Frances Slanger. It was Welch’s book about Slanger, “American Nightingale,” that convinced legislators to honor the Boston nurse.

This book about a heroic World War II nurse, `American Nightingale' (Atria Books, 2004), was featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. A follow-up book, Pebble in the Water (AO Creative, 2008), amplifies the author’s American Nightingale experience from an idea written on a Wendy’s napkin to the four years it took before the book was published, and details the life lessons learned along the way.

A storyteller by nature, Welch mines much of his speaking fodder from the 17 books he’s authored and the nearly 2,000 columns he wrote for The Register-Guard, Oregon’s second-largest newspaper, since 1999.

He has twice won the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ highest award for writing. In addition, he has won dozens of other journalism awards, including the 2010 and 2011 Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association’s “Best Writing” awards. Other honors include the Seattle Times C.B. Blethen Award for Distinguished Feature Writing.

Welch's most recent book, The Keyboard Kitten: An Oregon Children's Story, was his first foray into children's literature. Three Welch books hit the shelves in late 2012: Fifty-Two Little Lessons from It’s a Wonderful Life (Nashville: Thomas Nelson); Resolve: From WWII Bataan, the Story of a Soldier, a Flag, and a Promise Kept. (New York: Penguin’s Berkley Books); and Cascade Summer: My Adventure on Oregon’s Pacific Crest Trail. (Eugene: AO Creative).

In 2008, Easy Company Soldier (St. Martin’s Press) earned the No. 1 in the country among’s World War II/Western Front books. The book is about Don Malarkey, an Astoria-born member of the well-known “Band of Brothers” unit made famous by historian Steven Ambrose and an HBO miniseries produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.

Authhor Bob WelchWelch’s 1999 book, A Father for All Seasons, about the seasons of fathers and sons, won the Gold Medallion Award for Family and Parenting.

Articles of Welch’s have been published in more than a dozen books, including seven in the popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series.

In addition, he has had articles published in such magazines as Los Angeles Times, Reader’s Digest, Sports Illustrated and Runner’s World.

In 2005, Welch founded the Beachside Writers Workshop in the Oregon coast town of Yachats. Since then, more than 500 students have attended the 15 workshops.

In 2010 it expanded to include a Beachside/McKenzie event on the McKenzie River and in 2013 the workshops added a two-part workshop on memoirs that proved more popular than any other he has offered.

Welch has spoken at the National Writers Workshop and has served as a judge for numerous writing contests, including the Erma Bombeck Humor Writing awards.

He and his wife, Sally, live in Eugene. They are parents of two adult sons, who also live in Eugene with their families, and grandparents of four. Welch enjoys sailing, backpacking, used-bookstore browsing and University of Oregon sports-spectating.

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