Joe Wells

Joe Jack Wells

Wednesday, July 1st, 1931 - Friday, June 5th, 2020
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Joe Jack Wells of Rutherfordton died on June 5, 2020. He was 88 years old.
Joe was born July 1, 1931 in the beautiful valley of Bethel, in Haywood County, NC to Guy Edwin Wells and Elizabeth Stewart Wells. Times were lean, but Joe’s beloved paternal grandparents Edd and Delia Wells and their extended family were primarily farmers, so there was always the land and the bounty of food it yielded. He also enjoyed being with his maternal step-grandfather, Dewey Francis, who ran the historic Francis Grist Mill, a necessity for area families. An appreciation for the earth’s abundance, an early passion for reading, and a curiosity about the world launched him into a boundless life. Growing up, he was a member of Bethel United Methodist Church, active in its youth fellowship, and worked two summers at the camp at Lake Junaluska. He graduated from Bethel High School in 1949, then attended Brevard Junior College before transferring to North Carolina State to study forestry. A natural athlete, he won awards for diving, excelled at basketball in high school, at basketball and football in junior college, and ran cross country at NC State. After earning his degree in 1954, the first in his family to do so, he moved to Rutherfordton to work as a forester for Champion Paper Company. In 1961, Joe was surveying property for C.F. and Geneva Reece when their daughter Virginia came outside to bring “the handsome guy leading the crew” some water. Sparks flew. He was in the midst of building, by hand, his own home in a remarkable spot which would become theirs together. Joe and Ginny married in July 1963 and spent the next 56 years improving and maintaining their incredible homestead complete with managed forests, gorgeous gardens, an apple orchard, and other heart-rich touches they loved to share via legendary pig-pickings and cider-makings, summer pool parties, and the like. In 1962, Joe left Champion and joined Doncaster clothing company where he worked for the next 25 years. During this time, he also founded his own professional surveying company. With Ginny, in 1967, he opened Associated Printing and Services; she ran the daily operation and he joined her in the evenings to get it all done. Together, with hard work and great instincts, they grew the business exponentially and added offshoots such as a self-storage facility, before retiring in 2011 and passing the business to the next generation, their son Eric and his wife Terri. Joe engaged deeply in his community. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at age 16 and thereafter was a lifelong Scout leader and advocate for the Boy Scouts of America. In Rutherfordton, he served as Scoutmaster for Troop 132 and in 1959 started a local Explorer troop. His sons Joe and Eric also became Eagle Scouts, and he mentored his grandson Jacob Wells to become the third generation of Eagle Scouts in the family. Many of his closest, lifelong friends were made through Scouting and he always championed the difference it could make in the lives of young people. Joe was an active Jaycee, serving as the state vice president 1962-1963, and was honored with a Distinguished Service Award for his contributions. At First United Methodist Church, he volunteered in many ways, from teaching Sunday School to serving on the Board of Trustees, but will be remembered most for the countless times he, as “Papa Joe,” led the children’s sermons, tying valuable life lessons to a myriad of items he made, one for each child, from wooden tops to walking sticks. Slightly more nefarious community involvement included his chairmanship of the UDC Santa Suit Committee and a short stint as a billboard punctuation specialist. Above all, Joe loved being outdoors and was always up for an adventure. He hiked thousands of miles in his lifetime: from hundreds of outings and hikes with Scouts, his family and friends, to the entire Appalachian Trail with his son Eric, across the width of England with his daughter Ellyn, and on jaunts in the Alps and other far flung international destinations with Ginny, with whom he also explored most of the United States. He had a passion for wood. The home he built is filled with his woodwork, from wainscoting to cabinetry, furniture, and hundreds of turned vessels. He learned the art of wood turning in his fifties and gave it his full attention, outfitting his already full basement with the equipment. His pieces made their way across the country into the homes of families, friends, and strangers who bought his pieces, and he enjoyed teaching others to turn. He wanted every piece he made to be used for everyday living, and not to sit on a shelf and gather dust. Joe loved music, especially that of the Haywood County band Balsam Range and the incomparable Doc Watson; dogs (with a preference for dachshunds); Tommy’s BBQ; homemade fruit pies of any kind; butter pecan ice cream; and Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey flavor. He hated cats, and people who lied, littered, cheated, or smoked cigarettes. Pipes were okay. He is survived by Ginny and his children with whom he treasured his relationships: his son Joe and his wife Hazel of Solvang, CA and their children Peter, Katie, Tory, and Joey, and great-grandchildren Kaeley, Colin, Charlotte, and one on-the-way; his son Eric and his wife Terri of Rutherfordton, NC and their children Jacob and Lesley Ann; and his daughter Ellyn and her husband Glen Locascio of Asheville, NC and their children Chase and Jovi. Contributions in Joe’s memory are greatly appreciated and may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association ( P.O. Box 96011, Washington, DC 20090-6011. Please specify “Lewy Body Dementia Research.” A celebration of Joe’s life will be held at a later date to be shared with his community of family and friends.
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Private Condolence

Doug Melton

Posted at 08:01am
Sorry for your loss, all the best to your family during this difficult time.

Kate & Kevin Justus

Posted at 12:48am
"I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree." -Joyce Kilmer. In memory of Papa Joe Wells and his love for the outdoors.
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Joe Wells — Plant a Tree Now

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