Donald Carle Wells, 101, of Alexandria, VA, passed quietly in the arms of Jesus on Thursday, November 30, 2023. He was born July 23, 1922 in Cambridge, Maryland living near the Choptank River and was the youngest of the four sons of Charles Shelley Wells and Marie Virginia Anderson Wells.
Don was preceded in death by his wife Eleanor Covington Wells (in 1997) and his siblings Charles Jr., William and Richard.
Surviving are his children Donald Wells Jr. (Susan), Elizabeth Stone (Joseph), Shelley O’Grady (Alan Willis) and Alfred Wells; grandchildren, Cynthia Huppert, Christopher Stone, Jonathan O’Grady, Katie Van Camp, Thomas Wells, Lynn O’Grady; great-grandchildren, Mackenzie Croson, Andrew Huppert, Cash Van Camp, Sway Van Camp, Crew Van Camp and Alina Stone.
The Wells family relocated from the Eastern Shore of Maryland to Bethany, West Virginia in 1937 where Don graduated a year early from high school and subsequently graduated from Bethany College and where he became a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was commissioned as an Ensign in late 1943. Assigned in January 1944 as a deck officer aboard the attack transport (armed troop ship) USS Barnett (APA-5) he suffered some hearing loss during gunnery practice that bothered him for much of his life. On June 6th, Ensign Wells participated in the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, France, with the Barnett delivering troops (and General Teddy Roosevelt, Jr.) to Utah Beach. After taking back wounded troops to England, he then sailed into the Mediterranean Sea for the Invasion of Southern France in August of 1944. The Barnett then sailed to the Pacific Ocean and was in the invasion of Okinawa against the Japanese. Following the end of World War II, Ensign Wells served on the USS Bexar (another troop ship), delivering occupation troops to Japan and bringing back other soldiers to the U.S. in “Operation Magic Carpet”.
Don continued to serve his 20 years in the Reserves with destroyer duty, training in anti-sub exercises during the “Cold War” in the Atlantic and was promoted to Lieutenant before retiring. For several days around Veteran’s Day, he used to participate in seminars in Fairfax County at Sandburg Middle School and Little Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly about his experiences in WWII.
After the War, he entered the University of Virginia School of Law, graduating with a law degree. This was where he met Eleanor Covington from Culpeper County, VA who had graduated from the UVA School of Nursing as an RN. They married in 1949 and after passing both the Virginia and Maryland Bar exams, moved to the Annapolis area where (due to his high score on the Maryland exam) Don had been appointed to clerk for one year with the Maryland Court of Appeals. Following this, they moved to Alexandria, VA where Don went to work for the Davis & Ruffner Title Corporation and later for the Davis & Ruffner Attorneys as a title examiner and real estate attorney and with Eleanor began to raise a family.
Don felt the call to community service and answered the call with over six decades of service to the Alexandria community. He served as Dean, Elder and Trustee for the First Christian Church of Alexandria; became President of the Maury School Elementary PTA; President of the Alexandria Bar Assn.; volunteered for the Special Olympics; worked with the Alexandria Sea Scouts; became the Alexandria District Chairman for the National Area Boy Scouts of America; Salvation Army Chairman of the Advisory Board in Alexandria; rang the bell over the red Salvation Army collection kettle for several decades into his 90s and served as a President of the Kiwanis Club of Alexandria, with a perfect attendance record of 60 years, achieved at the age of 96.
Don enjoyed boating, fishing, hunting and spending time at the beach. He was an early supporter of integration and Project Headstart. Despite all of his community service, he was able to spend time with his wife and four children, taking them on vacations, to see movies and musicals, mentoring them and providing moral leadership. He will be missed. The family would like to thank the staff at the Aarondale Independent, Assisted Living and Memory Care Community in Springfield, VA for their care of Don and for the folks with the local Hospice unit.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Everly Wheatley Funeral Home in Alexandria with visitation on December 7th and a funeral service at the First Christian Church of Alexandria on King Street on December 8. This will be followed by a burial next to the grave of Eleanor at Ivy Hill Cemetery on King Street.