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COL. OBEL H. "OBIE" WELLS - ROTONDA WEST, Fla. - Col. Obel H. "Obie" Wells (U.S. Army Retired), 83, of Sportsman Road, died Sunday, March 3, 2013, in the Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte, Fla. Born May 10, 1929, in Sayre, Okla., he was the son of Thurmond and Inez Wells. In 1948, he graduated from Coachella High School in Indio, Calif., and received his bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1965 from St. Benedict's College in Atchison, Kan., and later his master's degree in political science at Auburn University in Montgomery, Ala. On Aug. 4, 1948, he entered the U.S. Army in Sacramento, Calif., and attended Army Officer Candidate School at Fort Riley, Kan., being commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry on March 23, 1951. He was inducted into the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Ga., in 2011. In 1965, he graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. A distinguished combat officer, he served as an infantry unit commander in Korea, and was a helicopter unit commander while serving for 20 months in Vietnam. Among his many decorations, he was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge with star, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal five times and the Purple Heart. His foreign service was recognized by the Korean government, and he had received several awards because of his distinguished service in Vietnam from their government. During his military career, he became a Master Parachutist and Master Aviator and was discharged as a full Colonel at Ft. Devens, Mass., on Aug. 31, 1978. An assignment prior to his discharge was being the Aviation Capability Advisor to the Shah of Iran, and he became a recognized expert on Middle Eastern affairs. Being a soldier model for the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., he was a distinguished guest at the dedication ceremony. He and his family moved to their home on Ridgewood Terrace in Barre Town in 1978, and he began his career as a stockbroker and financial advisor in 1979. Following his retirement, he and his wife, "Suzie," built their home in Rotonda West, Fla. He was first married to Catherine Sortis and they later divorced. On May 16, 1964, he married Pauline M. "Suzie" Burrell at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. They had resided at several military installations before moving to Barre Town in 1978, and later to Rotonda West, Fla. Suzie died July 7, 2001, in Berlin, Vt. Traveling, reading, golf, writing, coin and currency collecting and entertaining his friends, were his special interests. He was an active member of the Barre Rotary Club and past president, and belonged to the Barre Country Club, the Rotonda Golf Club and St. Monica Catholic Church. Survivors include his daughter, Elizabeth Blake and husband, Courtland, of East Walpole, Mass.; son, Michael Wells and wife, Helen, of Goldens Bridge, N.Y.; daughter-in-law, Voula Wells of Greenwich, Conn.; seven grandchildren, Calvin and Julie Blake, and Steven, Nicholas, Andrew, Konstantine and Katrina Wells; and numerous nieces and nephews. He also leaves two sisters, Uneida Burt and Arthula Kennard; stepbrothers, Jack, Joel and Donald Wells; and stepsister, Ramona Coffer. Besides his parents, and wife, Suzie, he was predeceased by his son, George; sister, Orpha Ferguson; brothers, Seaburn and Lloyd Wells; and stepbrother, Dean Wells. Obie was a 24-year survivor of his heart transplant in 1989, and was a great supporter and fundraiser for the American Heart Association in the Washington County area. Col. Wells' Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, March 14, 2013, at 11 a.m. in St. Monica Catholic Church in Barre. His interment with full military honors accorded, will be held at the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., at a time to be announced. There are no calling hours. The Hooker and Whitcomb Funeral Home, 7 Academy St., Barre, is in charge of arrangements. Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warriors Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675; or the Barre Rotary Club, P.O. Box 465, Barre, VT 05641.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Mar. 11, 2013
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