Dr. Joseph Patrick Wells, Ph.D., of Liberty, Texas, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at his residence of 56 years in Liberty, with his loving family by his side. He was born on July 28, 1929, in Hamburg, Arkansas, to the late Norman Melville Wells, Sr. and Lillian Pearl Riley of Ashley County, Arkansas.
“Joe,” as he was affectionately called, attended Hamburg Public School from 1939- 1946, until the age of 16, when he felt it necessary to quit school to help his father with the farm and transport vegetables to and from the market. Joe’s formal education began at the benevolence of his former Ag teacher, who came to Joe as he was working in the farm fields, to inform him that he had taken the liberty to apply to an Agricultural Scholarship through Sears & Roebuck Company on Joe’s behalf and all he had to do was take an exam. Joe passed the exam and was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas. Joe graduated with his Bachelor of Science in General Agriculture in 1948.
Joe met his wife, Patsy Ruth Caudle, in her hometown of Eudora, Arkansas when on assignment with the U.S. Army to teach veterans how to improve their farm crops. After a short courtship, He proposed over the phone and sent her engagement ring in the mail, right before he was shipped out to Japan on army assignment. They were married in 1952 in Eudora, Arkansas. A year later, Patsy joined Joe in Germany, where he was stationed for an extended period.
Joe served in the United States Army in various teaching roles throughout his twenty-year service. Joe received his commission as a 1st Lieutenant in 1953 and completed Officer Candidate School at Fort Riley, Kansas. He attended Artillery School at Fort Bliss, Texas, and served in Germany in the 2nd Armored Division of the U.S. Army, also known as “Hell on Wheels.” Joe separated from active duty and entered the U.S. Army Reserves Civil Affairs & Military Government Maneuver Area Command and retired as a Major in 1969.
Joe pursued further education and graduated with his Masters of Science in Agronomy from the University of Arkansas in 1958 and obtained his Doctorate in Soil Chemistry from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, in 1962. Joe became well known and highly respected as an Agronomist throughout Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas in his role as an Agronomist. To his farmer friends and family, he was known as “The Dirt Doctor”. Many articles in farm trade magazines were written about him and his research work for Texas A&M and American Rice Growers Association. For many years, Joe and his wife, Patsy, owned and operated various Agricultural businesses in the Liberty Area. Joe eventually retired in 1992 from Greenleaf Nursery in El Campo, Texas, as Pest Control Manager.
Joe was known for being extremely intelligent and resourceful. He spoke conversational German, Spanish and a little Japanese. He had many interests, some of which included deep sea fishing, sport hunting, and traveling. Joe loved to laugh and pick. He had a great sense of humor and enjoyed an elaborate plot or story. Joe was a very disciplined man and taught his children to work hard and seek every opportunity to learn. He lived by his word and was a man of great integrity. Joe will be remembered by his children and grandchildren as “PapaJoe” and as a kind and gentle soul. He was the fairest man and was always the voice of reason. Joe was often quiet and was a wonderful listener. He loved his family dearly.
JoeI wil was baptized at a young age in his family church and was a member of First Liberty Baptist church in Liberty, Texas, for many years until moving his letter of membership to Maranatha Church (now Hillside) in Mont Belvieu, Texas.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents; his beloved wife of sixty-two years Patsy; his sisters Dr. Helen Wells and Joyce Elkins; and his brother Norman Wells, Jr. He leaves behind to cherish his loving memory his three sons, Jack Wells and wife Judy of Beaumont, Texas, Ron Wells and wife Judy of San Antonio, Texas, Jeff Wells of Liberty, his daughters; Marcie Woerner and husband Mike of Liberty, Betty Wells Runkle and husband Robert of Liberty; his ten grandchildren; his thirteen great-grandchildren; and one great-great grandchild; his sister Shirley Hall of Indiana; his brother Richard Wells of Bentonville, Arkansas; his numerous nieces and nephews; and a host of other loving relatives and friends.
A graveside service for Joe will be held on Friday, November 10, 2023, beginning at 11 am, in Cooke Memorial Cemetery, with Pastor Shannon Bowdoin, of Liberty Worship Center, and Joe’s long-time neighbor, officiating. Richard Wells of Bentonville, Arkansas, will also share memories in honor of his older brother.