To Honor The Memory Of Welch Dalton Noblit

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Please allow me to share some memories of my old and special friend who helped to make Chattanooga a safer place to live and to say my final farewell to a man who heard my plea for help to put a stop to so many being killed on the streets of Chattanooga by drinking drivers. 

 It was many years ago when Welch Dalton Noblit saw my interview on Channel 3 about how judges were not enforcing the law against drunk drivers and answered the call.  His grandfather had been a judge over in Middle Tennessee.

and I have always thought he wanted to see judges be more like his grandfather to enforce and uphold the laws here in Chattanooga, especially laws that saved lives.

At that time there were judges who were expunging records of DUIs and letting DUIs off by dismissing the charges.  Welch came up with an idea that, with the help of a Times reporter, Andy Sher, put judges on notice that if a judge continued to dismiss cases of DUI they would receive RID's Hot Potato award.  So Welch would check all the DUI cases in the county court records and report to the newspaper which judges had won the Hot Potato award of the week.   It wasn't long after that, judges behavior changed. I guess you could say the judges had a sobering moment.

Next we had to tackle the pubic perception that a man's car was his castle and he could do whatever he wanted in his car.  Our challenge was to help men and women understand that when they backed out of their driveway onto the street they had to be sober to drive on public roads.  Welch helped me to organize (RID )Remove Intoxicated Drivers.  Lots of victims’ families came to help and soon the number of deaths by drunk and drugged driving came down. 

Every generation needs a man like Welch Noblit to step up and speak out when those we have elected to public office do not do their duty. Welch was always a gentleman, never demanding but gentle and sometimes used his good sense of humor to change behavior and opinions.   Tears have fallen as I now say my final goodbye to a gentleman who did what he could and in so doing lives have been saved. Thank you Welch, we will all miss you.

Lill Coker


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