Jerry Ellsworth Wells, age 83, of Joplin, Mo., passed away on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at his home.
Jerry was born Sept. 9, 1934, in Kansas City, Mo., to the late Charles Ellsworth Wells and Thelma Allen Wells. He grew up in Joplin and graduated from Joplin High School in the class of 1952. He attended Washington University, in St. Louis, then later transferred to the University of Missouri - Columbia where he was accepted into the School of Law after his junior year and graduated with a Juris Doctorate in 1958.
Jerry met Joanna Kay Woodfill when they were in grade school. They began dating in high school and married Aug. 11, 1956.
After law school Jerry was directly commissioned into the 5th Army Judge Advocate General's Corps at Fort Riley, Kan. After his military service they returned to Joplin, where Jerry began a general law practice. He strongly believed in being a mentor and advisor to young people, particularly those interested in law. He was a long time member of The First Presbyterian Church of Joplin where he enjoyed teaching the high school Sunday school class. He was a devoted member of "the coffee group" for over 40 years. He was active in the Joplin Jaycees, Joplin Kiwanis, and served as a member and one year as president of the Board of the Joplin Chamber of Commerce. He was a recipient of the Jaycee's Distinguished Service Award.
Jerry was part of bringing FAG Bearing to Joplin and served on its board of directors for many years. He was an early member of the Board of Regents for what is now Missouri Southern State University as it became a four year college and moved to the location of the current campus. For over 40 years he served on the Board of Regents, the Board of Trustees and the Missouri Southern Foundation Board.
Jerry enjoyed being a part of many business ventures starting out with a miniature golf course, a fireworks stand, and a wig shop. Later, Jerry and his business partners bought and sold numerous businesses, small and large. Jerry was a businessman at heart with his true talent lying in mergers and acquisitions. Jerry was a key negotiator for Moark, LLC as it consolidated companies within the egg industry to become one of the largest producers of eggs and egg products in the country. He loved his work and even had meetings scheduled for next week. He was forever indebted to Hollis Osborne for that opportunity.
Jerry enjoyed time on the family farm in Tipton Ford, where he raised cattle, mowed for hours on his tractor, and doing all the things necessary to maintain it. The farm provided opportunities to teach his children many valuable lessons. At times he kept bees, had a small orchard and often a vegetable garden. One of Jerry's favorite pastimes were the many river trips he took with his longtime fishing group. He also enjoyed fishing on Table Rock Lake and the White River while at the lake house on Holiday Island.
Jerry loved his family and treasured family times when his children and grandchildren were together. Holidays were some of those times and he especially loved taking the grandkids for fireworks in July and making homemade ice cream. Family vacations were the source of many wonderful memories and shared times.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Bernard Neal Williams.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Joanna Kay Wells; and his children, Craig Ellsworth Wells and wife, Mona (Tally), of Cape Girardeau, Scott Joseph Wells and wife, Kirsten (Faaborg), of Joplin, Karen Wells Fisher, of Joplin, and Anne Renee Wells, of Joplin. Grandchildren, Kurt Ellsworth Wells and wife, Cathryn (Deatherage), of Saitama, Japan, Kyle Mathis Wells and wife, Autumn (Abernathy), of Jackson, Mo., Avery Owen Wells, of Kansas City, Mo., Aren Joseph Wells, of Chicago Ill., Jerad Kent Fisher, of Burlington, Vt., Blake Woodfill Fisher, of Joplin, and Meghan Marie Wells, of Joplin; as well as three nephews, Allen Williams, Michael Karlson and Doug Williams.
Jerry's family gives their heartfelt thanks to all his caregivers with special thanks to Josh and Lorri for the care that made such a positive difference the last months of his life.
Memorial service will be Thursday, May 3, at 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Joplin, with visitation and storytelling following in John Knox Hall.
In lieu of flowers, the family request memorial contributions be made to the Missouri Southern Foundation, Woodfill-Wells Scholarship Fund, for deserving students majoring in Biology at MSSU, in care of Parker Mortuary.
Published on May 1, 2018