Robert H. Welder

Robert H. Welder and TPWD biologist releasing blue quail on Mr. Welder's property.


Rob Welder grew up on these and other family lands near Victoria. During his lifetime, particularly in his later years, Mr. Welder frequently mentioned his concern about the increasing scarcity of wildlife. His decision to establish the Foundation reflected a genuine concern that generations yet to come would not have the same childhood pleasures he had enjoyed of observing abundant and diverse wildlife and being in the great outdoors. He had seen small farms with their pastures, feedlots, and fence rows merged into large farms with complete mechanical cultivation containing no fence rows, pastures, trees, nor any place for game to hide, reproduce, or secure food. He took pride in the fact that wildlife remained abundant on his ranches, attributing this to the fact that he did not overgraze his land and that he always left some cover and forage for wildlife. He was a highly competent and successful rancher with extensive land and mineral holdings. When oil and gas were discovered on his property, he proved to be an astute businessman in dealing with oil companies. It was his wish that that a significant portion of his property be conserved and managed as native habitat for wildlife. Thus he established the Rob & Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation and its 7,800-acre Refuge.


Through the tenacity of the De la Portilla and Welder families, these lands and their abundance of wildlife were cared for and passed from one generation to the next; and through Rob Welder’s generosity they will endure into perpetuity as a wildlife legacy.

Rob Welder passed away on December 31, 1953 and on January 1, 1954 the Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation and Refuge came into existence.

Establishement of the Rob & Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation

Robert H. and Bessie Welder

When Mr. Welder decided to establish the Foundation he had clearly in his mind what he wanted to accomplish. He outlined on a map what was to be the Foundation's Refuge, and determined the number of cattle to be placed on the Refuge to ensure proper stocking. He also decided income from oil and gas leases and royalties from some of his properties would be devoted to support the Foundation.

Mr. Welder specified in his will that his bequest be known as the "Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation." His wife, Bessie, shared his ideas, dreams, and love of wildlife, and encouraged his philanthropies. 

In his will, Mr. Welder designated as Trustees of the new Foundation his nephews, John J. Welder, IV and Patrick Hughes Welder, Jr., and his attorney M. Harvey Weil. Shortly after Mr. Welder's death the Trustees hired a prominent and nationally recognized biologist, Dr. Clarence Cottam, as the first Director, and they hired W. Caleb Glazener, a well-known and respected wildlife biologist from Texas, as Assistant Director.