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Asthon Wells remembered for service, love of family

Grover Ashton Wells Jr. was remembered this week for his storied life and love of family. Wells, 80, died Saturday, June 12.

He first made a name for himself as an athlete at Andalusia High School, where he earned 13 varsity letters in four major sports from 1956-59, a school record.

He was a three-year starter in Bulldog football and was a running back and defensive back on AHS’s undefeated 1958 state championship football team. His teammates elected him permanent team co-captain. He also was named best blocking back, and received an Honorable Mention All State, in spite of missing three games due to an injury. In the spring of 1959, Wells won five gold medals in the district track meet and four in the conference meet. In 1959, he was among the first members of the Crimson Tide recruited by the legendary Coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant at the University of Alabama.

Wells was sidelined by a significant knee injury in his freshman season at ‘Bama.

After his injury, he was granted an “all sports scholarship” by Alabama to play baseball. He was a three-year letterman (1962-1964) and was selected to the All SEC team his junior year with a batting average of .396, the second highest average in the conference. In 1963, he was elected vice president of Alabama’s A Club.

After graduating from Alabama in mechanical engineering, Wells joined the Navy and attained the rank of lieutenant (1965-1970). He was a carrier pilot who had approximately 150 night and day carrier landings while serving aboard the USS John F. Kennedy (1969-1970).

Wells was MVP on the Thirteenth Naval District championship fast pitch softball team in 1968. He later earned a master’s degree in environmental engineering at the University of Florida in 1974. He was among the first in the field and returned to Andalusia where he worked with Alabama Electric Cooperative, now PowerSouth, to help design the expanding power grid.

Later, he joined the sales force at TPS, traveling all over the Southeast. Riley Taylor recalled working with him.

“He was everything a man should be,” Taylor recalled. “He had great values and excelled at everything he did. And he sold smart. Most people sell with their personalities. Ashton had a great personality, but he knew how to talk to people about why they should do business with us.”

He later became finance director for General Parts, and kept much of the business in his hometown. His public service includes 13 years on the Andalusia Board of Education, and more than 16 years on the Utilities Board of the City of Andalusia. He also has served on the PowerSouth board of directors.

He and his wife, Katy Sue (Meredith) Wells, whom he met in junior high school, have three children, all of whom made Covington County their home.

His brother, Ralph Wells, said Ashton loved that his children and grandchildren were nearby.

The three elder Wells brothers – Ashton, Ralph and Mike – usually had breakfast together once a week with three members of the next generation – Dr. Ashton Wells, Daniel Wells, and John Wells.

“They loved to hear the three of us tell stories, and we also learned a lot from them,” Ralph Wells recalled.

The brothers remained competitive into their golden years, Ralph Wells said.

“We had competitions about who had the best grandchildren,” he said. “His grandson would be pitching against my grandson, and I guarantee you, neither one of them was cheering for the other.”

Ralph Wells said his brother made family a priority.

“Ashton and Sue’s priority was their family,” he said. “They were always at the ball park, or involved with whatever the grandchildren were doing. Even when Ashton was sick and on oxygen, he wanted to go to ball games. One of us would take him in the golf cart, and he would sit there and watch as long as he could. He was very devoted.”

Services will be at 11 a.m. today, Wed., June 16, 2021, at First Baptist Church. Family will receive visitors at 10 a.m. in the sanctuary.