Ice cream lovers' friend dies at age 68

Published March 8, 2007

CLEARWATER - Rose S. Wellman, who along with her husband ran the Dairy Kurl, a landmark on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard for decades, died Monday (March 5, 2007) at Morton Plant Hospital. She was 68.

The ice cream stand is tiny, but it became a popular gathering spot for residents and tourists because it's on the road leading from Clearwater Beach. On hot days and summer nights, the place is packed.

Grandparents who enjoyed the Dairy Kurl's soft-serve ice cream in their youth now sit with their grandchildren under the same red-and-white-striped awning.

The Wellmans' son, Al, who is married and has kids of his own, began working with his parents in the ice cream stand at the age of 12.

"We still have people come by on return visits and ask how we're doing," he said. "We've had customers from out of state, even England, Australia, France and Japan, who return and are surprised to find us still here."

When the Wellmans took over on Nov. 16, 1972, a small ice cream cone cost less than a dime. In the 1980s, a large cone was a bargain at 55 cents. Today, shakes, sundaes, floats, slushies, freezes and banana splits are still being served at reasonable prices.

Mrs. Wellman was born March 15, 1938, in West Point, Miss., and met her husband, Larry, in New Orleans when they both worked for his father. They fell in love, got married and moved to Clearwater in 1971. The couple lived in a house on Turner Street, where they raised two sons and a daughter.

"It was very convenient for my parents," Al Wellman said. "Our house was only three blocks from the store.

"Dad opened the place and mom took over in the afternoon," he said. "That gave him the chance to come watch my brother and I play football at Clearwater High."

Mr. Wellman passed away in 2001, and when Mrs. Wellman retired because of health reasons a year later, Al became the sole proprietor.

He believes good quality and consistency are the reasons for the loyalty people have shown his parents and their business, and plans to keep Clearwater in ice cream for as long as he's able.

"We haven't changed anything in the whole time we've owned the Dairy Kurl," he said. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Mrs. Wellman's survivors include two sons, Al and Larry, both of Clearwater; a daughter, Roxanne Miller of Greenville, S.C.; two sisters, Velma Cheek of Kosciusko, Miss., and Ruby Jean Westerfield of St. Petersburg; several nieces and nephews; and seven grandchildren.

Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. today and a funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park and Funeral Home, 2853 Sunset Point Road in Clearwater.

Rose S. Wellman

1938 - 2007