Ouida Carolyn Wells

Published 12:46 pm Friday, December 22, 2023

Ouida Carolyn WellsOuida Carolyn Wells, the youngest child of the late Dr. Jere Asmond and Ouida Cox Wells, was born on July 23, 1933, in Atlanta, Georgia. 

She was educated at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta and continued to earn both a Masters Degree and Ph.D. in Biology at Emory University. She then received a postdoctoral fellowship at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee. While in Oak Ridge, a visiting professor from Longwood College mentioned to Carolyn that their Biology Department had an opening and that she should apply. It was just that informal and she could not have possibly known then how life-changing that casual decision would be! In 1960 she accepted a position in the Biology Department at Longwood College (now University), where she worked for the rest of her professional career. 

In her years at Longwood, Carolyn served as a mentor for students, faculty, and staff members, who valued her wisdom, intelligence, integrity, and her wry sense of humor. Her 40 year career was marked by a series of groundbreaking achievements: she was the first woman to serve as Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College; she taught a class in the Fine Arts Department as an award-winning photographer and was instrumental in founding the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts. The endowed Bishop-Wells Internship at the LCVA bears her name. In 1999, a year before her retirement, she was awarded the highest faculty honor of Board of Visitors Distinguished Professor. 

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Before and after her retirement in 2000, Dr. Wells maintained a busy, active life by throwing herself into numerous activities and projects within the Farmville community. She was a longtime member of Farmville Presbyterian Church, serving many terms on the Session and teaching an adult Sunday school class, for which she was always well prepared. Also a longtime member of the Judith Randolph-Longwood Chapter of the DAR, Dr. Wells led many local efforts, participated in state-wide governance, and served as Regent. In 2020, she was awarded the NSDAR Community Service Award. As a founding member of the Margaret Watson Bird Club, she organized and led the local bird census and spoke to many Garden Clubs and other organizations on the topic of birds. Carolyn was also a Master Gardener and a champion of many arts and culture organizations in Southside Virginia, such as the Summer Garden Opera, and Virginia Children’s Book Festival. Some of her happiest memories were of golf trips with her lifelong companion, Barbara. They traveled widely, including many trips to Scotland to play the Old Course at St. Andrews. 

Carolyn is preceded in death by her parents; brothers, Jere A. Wells Jr., George F. Wells and Dr. Robert E. Wells; her sister, Elena Wells Harrison and two nieces, Lucibeth Harrison Nesbit and Elizabeth Ann Wells. 

She is survived by Barbara B. Smith and nine nieces and nephews: Jere Elena Wells Brands (Harold), Andrea Wells Miller, Linda Wells Carswell, Cathlean Harrison Coleman (Jon), Jere Wells (Della), Robanne Harrison, Connie Harrison Phillips (Ernie), Tom Wells (Susan) and Cathlean Wells Utzig (Carter). She also leaves behind 15 great- nieces and nephews and multiple great-great nieces and nephews. 

As important as family is, the countless friends, colleagues and students whose lives Carolyn has touched for over 70 years are equally loved and valued. There are scores of people grieving today. 

A visitation will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 27, from 5 – 7 p.m., at Puckett Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held on Thursday, Dec. 28, at 1 p.m. in Farmville Presbyterian Church with interment to follow in Westview Cemetery. The family requests that memorial contributions may be made to the Bishop-Wells Endowment at Longwood University or the Judith Randolph-Longwood Chapter of the DAR, c/o Margaret Atkins, 122 Fox Hill Road, Rice, VA 23966, or a charity of your choice. 

Puckett Funeral Home is serving the family. www.puckettfh.com.