He attended Earlham College in Indiana, graduating in 1924. He received his Masters degree from Haverford College in Pennsylvania a year later. In 1926, he was hired as an assistant professor in the biology department at Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa.
It was here that he met and married Susan Fulton Sept. 2, 1930. In 1932, he received his Doctorate from the University of Chicago. He remained at Parsons until 1934, when he joined the Beloit College biology department.
During 1946-47 he took leave to head a post-war Quaker relief team for American Friends Service Committee in France and Germany. He returned to Beloit and taught until 1966.
Welty was a modest man who always had time for a student with a problem, whether it was academic or personal. He was a teacher who not only encouraged learning, but also reminded others of their good fortune, challenging many to return that good fortune to those less fortunate.