Long time Lafayette City Attorney Jon Anthony Wells passed away at the age of 77, on Thursday morning, August 25th, 2016 at Knollwood Manor in Lafayette.
Wells had been President of the Chamber of Commerce, the Macon County Jaycees, and Lafayette Rotary Club; he has been a Two-Term Member in the Tennessee Bar Association; a Member of the Board of Directors and sitting attorney for the Industrial Development Committee; and Secretary of the Lafayette Regional Planning Commission since 1970. He was also a Scoutmaster with Lafayette Troop 405 for 22 years, and recipient of the Long Rifle and Silver Beaver awards.
Wells had been an attorney at law in Lafayette for 48 years until his retirement in 2013. He was a graduate of Lipscomb University and University of Tennessee College of Law. He moved to Lafayette fresh out of law school in 1965, to join the law practice of C.R. Jent. After Jent’s passing, he continued to practice out of the same office. He served as City Attorney for both Lafayette and Red Boiling Springs. Having served as part time Director of LHA for over thirty years, he was hired as full time Director at the time that his private practice was closed. Wells continued to serve the cities of Lafayette and Red Boiling Springs as legal advisor.
During an interview that the Times had with Wells in 2013,he was asked what had he enjoyed most about practicing law? “Everything,” he replied. “Out of 48 years I only have one day I regret – I can’t tell you what happened that day. Not much has changed about [the practice of law]. I talk to the same people, I write deeds, I write bills, I write corporate documents. The legislature will pass new things now and then, but overall, law hasn’t changed.”
Mayor Richard Driver commented, “I knew Jon Wells for quite a while. He was City Attorney when I was elected Mayor in 2012. I had a lot of questions when I first became Mayor and he was very knowledgeable. I could depend on him to answer a lot of those questions.”
Attorney Russell Brown said that he has known Wells since he moved to Lafayette over 30 years go. Brown said, “I knew him as a friend and a professional. I remember him in a professional realm, as a transactional lawyer, meaning he worked more out of the courtroom for the city as the City Attorney. He probably attended more city council meetings than anyone in the county. I went to church with Jon, I appreciated his service to our church both as a deacon and later as an Elder. Jon and I were members of the Rotary Club and we are a service organization, and he was always one to serve, one memory that sticks out to me is him cooking hamburgers at one of the events. He had a spatula in his hand with an apron on sweating over a hot grill.”
Wells was instrumental in organizing the Boy Scout Troop 405 in Lafayette. Current Scoutmaster for the troop, Skip Carter commented, “He always supported our scout troop. He was always outgoing and had something to say. Jon was always there for the scouts. He knew what was needed, donated to the scouts, and always had encouraging words for the troops. I always admired the man, he was just a good guy.”
The Lafayette Police Department was named after Jon Wells and Bill Wells, who was Mayor at that time. A Proclamation was adopted on August 2, 2005 in honor of both, for their distinguished service to the city. Bill served on the City Council for 12 years and on the Police Committee four years then was elected Mayor. Jon was appointed City Attorney in 1966, served for 36 years and also served on the Police Committee.
Funeral services were conducted on Saturday, August 27th from the Lafayette Church of Christ with Jerry Mercer officiating. Burial took place in the Anderson & Son Memorial Park. He is survived by his wife, Judith Wells of Lafayette, son and daughter-in-law, David Anthony and Dawn Wells of Lafayette, daughters, Mindy Susan Wells of Nashville, Jane Wells, of New Concord, OH, grandchildren, Kyle Wells, Brandon Wells, Ardan Wells, Jude Wells, and Sofia Guy.
Reach Kelly Rich at 615-666-2440.