Harvey Jefferson Wells, Jr., a former longtime educator in Santa Monica and an outdoor enthusiast, passed away peacefully at a Santa Monica hospital November 14th after a yearlong battle with emphysema. He was 90.
His family said that his legacy as a lifelong educator and man of genuine goodwill, courtesy and kindness will live on forever.
Wells was born in Los Angeles on May 26th, 1919 as the son of Harvey J. Wells, Sr. and Martha C. Wells of Venice. He was proud of being a native Californian and lived his entire young life in Southern California in Venice and Santa Monica.
As a young man Wells became as accomplished accordion player, receiving lessons from Galla-Rini.
Wells, who graduated from Venice High School in 1948, served in the United States Navy from 1948 to 1952 and was a Korean War veteran as an enlisted radar operations specialist on the USS WASHBURN during the amphibious Inchon Invasion, followed by a tour on the ESSEX-Class aircraft carrier USS KEARSARGE.
After the Korean War, Wells returned to Venice and attended Santa Monica City College, now Santa Monica College, where he was an accomplished long jumper on the track team as well as a skilled student.
He also attended California State University-Los Angeles, where he received his bachelor’s degree and California State teaching credential in 1956, beginning his career a year later as a lifelong educator in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Wells received his master’s degree from the University of Southern California in 1966, when he also became a lifelong Trojan football fan.
As a teacher and educator at John Muir and McKinley elementary schools in Santa Monica, Wells influenced thousands of young children and their parents, the staff and faculty, his family said. He was proud of the 40-year service pin he received from the district and remained close to many of the McKinley teachers and staff.
As an outdoorsman, Wells was captivated by the beauty and wonder of California and often visited the Redwoods in Northern California and the national parks of the Sierra Nevada. He was also a fresh and saltwater fisherman. His favorite fishing boat was the BETTY’O out of Marina del Rey, where he was affectionately known as “Santa Monica Harv.”
Wells also loved literature, reading and was a tough Scrabble opponent, friends said.
He is survived by his loving wife of 56 years,Virginia, son Capt. Robert Wells (retired US Navy) and daughter Susan Lynch, granddaughter Kathleen Wells Hochberg and grandson Brian Lynch, great-granddaughter Mikaela Christine Hochberg, his mother-in-law Janice V. Jackson and sister-in-law Eileen Jackson O’Rourke, and many friends.
Memorial services were held November 19th in Santa Monica. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital.