Lee Roy Wells Jr.

Published 4:27 pm Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tupelo,  formerly of Vicksburg — Lee Roy Wells Jr., age 88, “graduated,” as he used to say, from this life into eternity on July 21, 2019, after several years of declining health.

Born on Dec. 24, 1930, in Vicksburg, he was the son of Lee Roy Wells, Sr. and Varie Lahatte Wells.  After his mother’s untimely death, he was raised by his father and stepmother, Sadie Hovious Wells. 

He was an excellent student and graduated at the top of his class at Carr Central High School in 1948.  He attended Mississippi State University on an ROTC scholarship, where he studied electrical engineering and was president of the engineering honor society.

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During his freshman year, he met Virginia Ann Lee at a joint Wesley Foundation social with MSCW.  He was captivated by her big smile, and they were married 4 years later in August 1952.

While serving in the United States Air Force, he went on to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois and then served for three years active duty at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y. Two daughters were born to Roy and Virginia during those years.

At the end of his military commitment, he returned home to Vicksburg to join the family appliance business Wells & LaHatte, where he was a respected member of the business community for over 40 years.  A son was born to the family soon after that move.

Roy was a devoted family man and father to his three children. He also enjoyed playing tennis, participating in Lion’s Club and teaching Sunday school at Crawford St. United Methodist Church. In 2000, after Virginia was diagnosed with cancer, he moved with her to Tupelo to be closer to family during her treatment and eventual death in 2003.

He decided to stay in Tupelo and did an admirable job of embracing his new hometown. He was adopted into the Tupelo tennis community, taught Sunday school at First United Methodist Church, delivered Meals on Wheels, provided transportation to senior adults through the Shepherd Center, enjoyed watching his grandchildren grow to adulthood, and welcomed four great-grandchildren, the eldest named for his beloved Virginia. 

A kind and gentle man, he was loved by his friends and family and will be greatly missed.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his wife, as well as his brother, Franklin Kirby Wells. 

He is survived by his children, Catherine Wells Monroe (Andrew) of Midlothian, Virginia; Linda Wells Rice (Rob) of Tupelo; and David Franklin Wells (Ann) of Bettendorf, Iowa; grandchildren, Duncan Monroe (fiancée Jessie), Drew Rice (Meg), Beth Rice Smith (Mark), Lydia Rice Colin (Abelardo); Erik Wells (Lin); Adam Wells; and great-grandchildren, Virginia Smith, Nathanael Smith, Hugh Rice, Jason Wells and two more on the way.

He is also survived by his devoted sister, Roblyn Wells Ring (Pat) of Vicksburg; sisters-in-law, Rose Marie Wells of Atlanta, Georgia and Jan Lee of Vicksburg; brothers-in-law, Frank Lee of Jacksonville, Florida, and Bob Lee (Freddie) of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and several nieces and nephews.

We are thankful for the excellent care he has received over the years from the medical community in Tupelo, especially Dr. Ken Harvey and Dr. Hughes Milam and their staff members.

We are also grateful for the loving care he received in his home from Verna Lindsey, aided by Delores Crump, as well as from Montanna Holland Spraggins and helpers during the transition to the Traceway Community. 

Most recently, we appreciate the care of the wonderful staff at the Martin Green House, Dr. Tillotson and Dr. Perrine of NMMC Family Medicine Residency Center and Sanctuary Home Hospice.

Pallbearers will be his grandsons, Drew Rice, Erik Wells, Adam Wells and Duncan Monroe, grandsons-in-law, Mark Smith and Abelardo Colin and family members, Andrew Monroe and Kevin Holman. 

Honorary pallbearers will be tennis friends, Marion Winkler, Dale Smith, Jim Johnson, Joe Hancock, John Bryson, Heywood Washburn, Alan Bank, and friends, Eldridge Fleming, Jim Chandler and Evans Whittle.

Funeral services will be held in Wesley Hall at First United Methodist Church in Tupelo at noon Saturday, July 27, 2019, with visitation beginning at 10:30 a.m. until service time. 

There will be a private graveside service at Tupelo Memorial Park. W. E. Pegues Funeral Directors is honored to be in charge of the arrangements.

Memorials may be made to Crawford St. UMC in Vicksburg, MS; First United Methodist Church, Tupelo; Meals on Wheels or Shepherd Center.

Expressions of sympathy may be left at www.peguesfuneralhome.com.