Those of us who knew Gene Wells were lucky.
He made us laugh when we needed to laugh. And he helped guide us in the right direction when we needed such direction.
His passing leaves a void in the lives of those who not only loved him, but admired and respected him, too. Gene Wells genuinely was a man who cared very much for other people and he loved McDuffie County and its people.
I was deeply saddened to learn of his death, because I considered him a friend. Prior to his retiring as judge of McDuffie County Probate Court, he allowed me to go to his home and interview him about his life in public service. The interview was conducted at his kitchen table amid jokes being told and fond memories of his years of working as a deputy and investigator with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department.
It was while he worked at the sheriff's department that I got to know Mr. Gene, whom I later began calling Judge Wells after he was elected judge of McDuffie County Probate Court. I was working as a police reporter with The Augusta Chronicle at the time I met Mr. Gene.
Immediately, we just seemed to hit it off and became friends right away.
He shared with me information on investigations that he had worked which led to several arrests. I shared with our readers at the time about those crimes in stories that I wrote.
Mr. Gene was a man who deeply involved himself in his work - whether it was in law enforcement investigations or as judge of Probate Court.
He also was a family man and a man who believed in God and tried to do the right thing always. He loved his first wife of 43 years, the late Mrs. Reesie B. Wells, and he loved his second wife, Betty Jean Evans Wells, whom he married earlier this year. Mr. Gene also loved his two sons, Tom Wells of Thomson and Steve Wells of Dearing.
As judge of Probate Court, Mr. Gene took serious his position and never wavered from what he thought was right, even if it upset or angered others.
For 17 years, he held the judgeship position and became a well-known judge across the state. During his time on the bench, he made many friends.
Gene Wells was a good man and most of all, perhaps, an honorable man
I will remember Mr. Gene for many, many years to come in my life. I will remember his smile and the way he went about life - telling jokes and helping make people feel better about themselves.
That was Gene Wells.