Georgine Welo

Georgine Welo

As a young woman being raised in a Serbian Orthodox home, Georgine Welo  (maiden name Coso), would be spotted on Friday nights at Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral’s Cultural classes, attending Sunday School, reading the Epistle and working at all the Church banquets at Saint Sava Cathedral in Parma Ohio.

Georgine and other girls would be serving the banquets and afterwards washing dishes and assisting in any manner her mother and other women at Serb Hall saw fit. As she grew older she followed the footsteps of many others in teaching Sunday School. She was an Assistant Teacher while in High School. In 1976, she would go each day after school to assist the Serbian Lodges in hosting the National Serbian Basketball Tournament in Cleveland Ohio.

It was very important to her parents, Sam and Dorothy Coso, that she attend a college close to her home. They decided that Akron University would be a good fit as the church had a van that would pick her up at her Dorm Room to attend choir practice and church services. While attending the University of Akron, Georgine was very active with the Serbian choir and church.  She enjoyed traveling with the choir to different Serbian Communities throughout the United States and Canada, along with being active in the Serbian dances and events at Saint Archangel Michael Serbian Orthodox Church in Akron. It was during this time she became active in the Serbian Singing Society.

While in college she loved being active with her Serbian Lodge and played in several Serbian Basketball Tournaments and worked many of the Labor Day Njegosh Days in which Baseball and Golf Tournaments were held. In 1977 she won the title of Miss Njegosh and spent the next years working any and all events.

In 1978, Georgine returned home to Cleveland and became engaged to her husband of now 43 years Carter Welo. Besides becoming engaged she jumped right back into being active in her Serbian community. She immediately restarted the S.S.S. Njegosh Choir and enlisted her friend Michele Julylia to be the full time Director and recruited many of her family, Kumovi, friends and even her new fiancé to join! At the same time the Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese regained ownership of “Shadeland” a Serbian Camp in Pennsylvania. Word travelled fast throughout the Serbian parishes that the camp was very run down and that there was very little chance the camp would open for at least a year. Georgine’s husband was in the process of buying the True Value Hardware store where he worked. He had several friends who were in the trades and the two of them organized a team of people to work each weekend to repair, paint and bring back to life the old camp ground! It took not only elbow grease but a lot of coordination to raise the funds! That summer “Shadeland” opened and today has become one of the biggest Serbian Summer Camps in the United States.

In the summer of 1979, Georgine married Carter and that fall became President of SSS Njegosh Choir and continued her involvement in the Serbian Singing Society, Lodge, and Church.  In the early 1980’s, her Uncle Steve Coso was President of Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral and her Kumovi Marlene Voinov approached her Uncle and others including Georgine about the idea of hosting a “Serbian Festival” at the Cathedral.  Georgine did not hesitate and jumped in with both feet. Both her and her husband Carter chaired the Children’s Games, Adult Games and Cevap Station. The two of them loved working with Svetozar Nikolic making the Cevaps and manning the booth. Over the years as her responsibilities have grown and she no longer chairs a committee but can be found working in the barbecue lamb and pig stand.

Because of Georgine’s involvement with the Serbian Singing Society, she learned about the opportunity of Serbian parishes hosting the national Singing Festival each Memorial Day weekend and approached the Cathedral Board following a presentation to her fellow SSS Njegosh choir members. The Board gave Georgine and the choir the thumbs up to submit a bid and they won the 1983 bid! Even though Georgine had just had her daughter Nicole in December of 1982, she in no way was giving up the Chairmanship! Saint Sava Cathedral and the SSS Njegosh Choir hosted a very successful Festival weekend in which then Cleveland Mayor George Voinvovich presented the Serbian Singing Society President, Paul Belich and the organization, a resolution declaring Saturday May 28,1983, Serbian Singing Society Day in the city of Cleveland, Ohio.

A hub for Cleveland Festivals of the past was Mall C in the heart of Cleveland’s downtown. It was flanked by the city’s major civic and governmental building and hosted the yearly Cleveland Nationality Festival. Each year Cleveland’s Cultural organizations hosted booths and sold both food and wares to raise money for their treasuries. Georgine chaired the Serbian booth for many years and worked alongside several groups to prepare the food, schedule booth workers and organize Serbian Entertainment for the main stage. The festival faded away until the Cleveland Cultural Gardens began, “One World Day” which has grown into a Northeast Ohio favorite in which each nationality opens and hosts their gardens for the day along with participating in the Annual Kick off Parade.  In 2019, the Serbian Cultural Gardens led by Chair Alex Machaskee, hosted the naturalization program on the mainstage and Georgine was honored to serve as the Mistress of Ceremonies.

Under the urging of her Uncle Jon Malakar, Georgine joined the St. Sava Cathedral Board and by now  was the mother of 3 children. She was the Assistant Treasurer for several years and lead the committees to bring air conditioning to the church, paint the parish home and she became the editor of the Sunday Bulletin and Quarterly “St. Sava Herold” which was mailed to the Cathedrals membership and neighboring parishes. Each week Georgine would work with the priest and local organizations and Sunday School to prepare the Sunday Bulletin. She took great pride in having it translated each week in both Serbian and English. She worked hard to fill each quarterly Herold with an even blend of religion and culture, often writing pieces on Serbian traditions and Religious Holidays. To this day, many people come across old copies and enjoy her articles of the past.

Anyone who knows Georgine knows that her passion has always been for the Serbian youth and people. Her mother Dorothy Coso encouraged her to follow her as a Sunday School teacher. When asked by Proto Vasko Sokolovic to become the Principal of the Sunday School, she did not hesitate. Georgine enlisted teachers, new and seasoned, to help her grow the school and assist the principal of the Serbian Cultural School to enlarge their dance classes and add a tamburitza teacher. Soon she organized an Annual Kumovi Day, Youth Group, Saint Nicholas Day and Sunday Luncheon to raise dollars for new Alter Boy robes. Her love for the children carried on for years.

As everyone knows, Serbs love basketball! Each year the Serbian National Federation holds an Annual Basketball Tournament for the United State and Canadian Lodges. The cost to attend such a function and the renting of gyms for the players was becoming quite expensive for many families. Georgine and her husband Carter formed a committee to begin raising funds to allow all Serbian children and their families to attend the tournaments. The parents and coaches were embraced by the community and an annual raffle and other fundraisers were formed to provide resources for all. Little do many know, but Georgine played on Cleveland Baba’s Basketball team well into her 40’s!

Over the years, Georgine, who is so proud of her Serbian heritage, has worked to share it with others by writing and securing an Ohio Arts Grant to bring a Serbian Tamburitzan Orchestra from Novi Sad, Serbia to Ohio. She secured Notre Dame College for a free concert.  The Main Library branch of the Cuyahoga County Library in Parma, with Georgine’s help, was the venue for a Serbian dance troupe from Switzerland.   However, the real excitement came when she teamed with Alex Machaskee, at Cleveland’s Severance Hall, for a performance by the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra.  All events were open to the public and truly showcased the culture of Ohio’s Serbian people.

Georgine also helped Alex Machaskee raise funds for Hilander Serbian Monastery at Mt. Athos which was destroyed by a fire.  The concert by the famous Legende Orchestra of Belgrade was a sellout at Severance Hall and helped significantly with rebuilding the monastery.

In 2019, Georgine was asked to speak at the Annual Eastern European Congress of Ohio’s Annual Eastern European Month Dinner Celebration which occurs each April. She spoke about her Serbian Eastern heritage and how it impacted her life and how grateful she is to have been raised by two loving parents and the Serbian community.  That year the Congress honored Elizabeth Ann Diles, Carpatho-Rusyn. Georgine was very honored as Elizabeth was the Vice President of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society and she had just returned from a civilian mission with the Ohio National Guard through a program with the State Department.

In 2018 and 2019, Georgine assisted in two civilian missions to Serbia in which she organized book and art supply drives.  She brought hundreds of books to the city of Kraljevo’s Public Library and met with school children to speak about the Serbian heritage and traditions that continue in America. They really enjoyed playing basketball with her in the Elementary School Gym which was rebuilt after an earthquake by the Ohio National Guard and were surprised how well she could “Kolo” dance!  From Kralijevo she traveled by bus to Subotica Serbia to visit the Svetozar Markovic School. There she brought the students art supplies to allow them to paint, sketch and draw art work of their Serbian heritage.

Georgine has received many awards including a 1995 Award from the American Professional Serbian Business Association in Pittsburgh.  She has also hosted many groups from Serbia including professors, students and government officials.

In November 2003, Georgine Welo became the first woman elected Mayor of the City of South Euclid, a position she still holds.

Professional positions include:

Civilian Ambassador with the Ohio National Guard in conjunction with Sister Cities International
Vice-Chair of NOPEC
Chair of NOPEC Finance
Current Member, International Cleveland Communities Advisory Committee, Cleveland Museum of Art
Current Executive Member, Heights Regional Chambers of Commerce
Current Member, Ohio First Suburbs Consortium
Current Member, Euclid Creek Watershed Council
Current Member, The Mayor’s Association of Ohio
Current Member, Northeast Ohio Mayor and Managers Association
Current Member, Council of Government, Community Partnership on Aging (formerly Tri-City Consortium on Aging)
Advisory Board Member of the Center for Population Dynamics Maxine Goodman Levin College of
Urban Affairs;
Honorary Board Member, Hillcrest Meals on Wheels
Past Board Member, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA)
Past Chair of the GCRTA Operational Planning & Infrastructure Committee
Past Chair of the GCRTA Strategic Governing Team
Past Chair of the GCRTA Ad Hoc By-Laws Committee
Past Chair of the GCRTA Nominating Committee
Past Chair of the GCRTA Procurement for the GM Search
Past Member of the GCRTA Audit, Safety Compliance & Real Estate Committee
Past Member of the GCRTA External & Stakeholder Relations & Advocacy Committee
Past Chair of NOPEC Gas & Electric Committee
Past Chair of the NOPEC Demand Side Market Entry Advisory Services Committee
Past Board Member, Auditor of State’s Northeast Ohio Regional Advisory Board
Past Member, Regional Prosperity Initiative
Past Executive Member of Northeast Ohio Mayors and Managers Association
Past President of Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association
Past Chair of the Government and Community Relations Advisory Council, Notre Dame College
Past Vice-president, Suburban Council of Governments, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District
Past Executive Member, First Suburbs Consortium
Past Member, Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG)
Past Board of Trustee, Ohio Municipal League
Past Board of Trustee, University Suburban Medical Center, South Euclid
Past Grant Member, NOPEC Powering Our Community
Past Vice-Chair of the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation Board
Past Vice-Chair of the Cuyahoga County Mayors and Managers
Past Chairperson of the NOPEC Demand Side
Past Chairperson, First Suburbs Consortium
Past Chairperson, Euclid Creek Watershed Council
Past Board Chairperson, Sourcing Office
Past Board Member, Strategic Planning, Cuyahoga County Public Library
Past Board of Trustee, Notre Dame College, South Euclid Ohio
Past Board Member, Regina High School
Past Secretary, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Suburban Council of Governments
Past Member, SELREC Council of Governments
Past Member, Cuyahoga County Planning Commission
Past Member Cuyahoga County JABG Review Committee (Juvenile Accountability Block Grant funding)
Past Member, District One Public Works Integrating Committee
Past Member, Northeast Ohio Mayor’s Think Tank, Kent State University
Administrative Bailiff, Judge Ann T. Mannen, Court of Common Pleas, Cuyahoga County, 1998-2003
Member, Zoning and Planning Committee, City of South Euclid 1998-2003
Council President Pro-Tem, City of South Euclid 1996-1998
Council Person, City of South Euclid, Ohio 1992-1998
Chairperson, Charter Review Commission, City of South Euclid, 1994, 2005

Civic Activities include:

Notre Dame College’s Centennial Steering Committee
Global Cleveland Mentor
Mistress of Ceremony for One World Day
Board Member, Daily Dose of Reading (Dr. S. Senders and Associates)
Host Committee Cleveland Rape Crisis Center 2010
Cleveland Rape Crisis Center Sing Out Choir 2018
Host Committee Cleveland Film Commission 2010 Red Carpet Event
Co-Hostess 2009 S.H.O.W.E.R. Event, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center
Host Committee – Cleveland Public Theatre Pandemonium 2008
Host Committee – Regina Gala 2008
Member, 2008 United Way Eastern Regional Market Committee Member
Member of the League of Women Voters
Member of the Stonewall Democrats Chairperson, South Euclid Home Days
Member of Cleveland Cultural Gardens
Member, South Euclid Garden Club
Member, South Euclid Lyndhurst PTA
Member, Charles F. Brush Athletic Booster
Member, Regina High School Campaign Steering Committee
Member, South Euclid Democratic Club.
Member, Cuyahoga County Democratic Club, Precinct Committee person for
The Cuyahoga County Democratic Club,
Past Member, Serbian Arts Council
Past Board Member, Loyola Society, St. Ignatius High School
Past Member, South Euclid Ad-Hoc Committee on Recreation
Past Vice President, South Euclid, Co-op Pre-School
Past Assistant Treasurer, St. Sava Cathedral, Parma Ohio
Past Sunday School Superintendent, St. Sava Cathedral, Parma Ohio
Past President S.S.S. Njegosh Choir President

Recognitions include:

Recipient 2015 Silver and Gold First Responders for Greater Cleveland
Nominee 2015 “Public Sector Leader” Award; Greater Ohio Policy Center
Recipient 2014 “Northeast Ohio Visionary Leader” Award; Building One Ohio
Recipient 2011 Outstanding Leadership Award; Euclid Creek Watershed Partnership
Recipient 2010 Crain’s Emerald Award
Recipient First Suburbs Consortium Hero Award, November 15, 2007
from University Heights, Ohio.
Recipient 2005 and 2006 Most Influential Person of the Year, Sun Newspapers
Recipient: Award for Civic Service, 100th Anniversary, and December 5, 1996
The Citizens League of Greater Cleveland
Recipient: Award for Public Service, November 1995
American Serbian Businessman’s Association

Mayor Welo’s immediate family consists of:

Husband – Carter A. Welo Sr. (Owner South Euclid True Value Hardware)
Daughter – Nicole M. Welo (husband Mark Mailler)
Sons – Carter A. Welo, Jr. (wife Jackie, son – Carter A. III, daughter – Lillian Avery); and
Miles P. Welo (wife Erin, daughter – Caroline Nicole, son – Miles Philip Jr.)

Mayor Georgine Welo was inducted by Alex Machaskee

Watch the video (below) of Alex Machaskee inducting Mayor Welo and then Georgine’s acceptance speech.

Mayor Georgine Welo
Alex Machaskee and Mayor Georgine Welo
Mayor Georgine Welo and Alex Machaskee
Mayor Georgine Welo