William Brownlee Welsh was born in Munfordville, Kentucky, on September 18, 1924. His mother, Mary Cox Welsh, was in charge of dining halls at Berea College in Kentucky. His father, Benjamin Tibbetts Welsh, worked in a labor program in Berea. William grew up around Berea and eventually attended Berea College. However, Welsh split time during his childhood between Kentucky and Boothbay Harbor, Maine, where his grandfather worked on a dairy farm. Welsh spent every summer of his youth in Boothbay Harbor with his grandfather, until he went away to fight in World War II for three or four years. Welsh was elected president of the National Student Association in the mid-1940s and spent a year putting that organization together. He was chosen to join the staff of Senator Herman Lehman as his assistant. After Lehman retired, Welsh took over for Phil Stern as the research director for the Democratic National Committee. He also was the Administrative Assistant to Phil Hart. Welsh became acquainted with Muskie through his connections in Maine and eventually went on to be the assistant to Vice President Hubert Humphrey.
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Nicoll, Don, "Welsh, William "Bill" oral history interview" (2003). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 405.