Roderick Alexander Wells was born in Montclair, New Jersey on February 11, 1931, the son of Harold Colby Wells of Lyndonville and West Danville, and Edith (Aldrich) Alexander Wells of Glover, and died on May 26, 2019.
He attended Montclair Grade and High Schools in New Jersey, and the Art Students League in New York City, having won first place there in a national art competition. After four years in the United States Navy, he studied at Columbia University earning a BFA and MA, furthering his art education at the Pratt Graphics Center.
He taught art for four years in New Jersey and for twenty-two years was Art Teacher/Chairperson in the Locust Valley High School on Long Island. During most of those years on Long Island, Rod also worked as an artist/illustrator in New York City creating illustrations for several agencies. His illustrations appeared in books and nine magazines, including House Beautiful, Gourmet Magazine and The New Yorker. His drawings and paintings appeared in many group and solo shows and won several first-place awards. One of his exhibits was selected for funding by the New York State Council of the Arts. In 1988, Catamount Arts of St. Johnsbury sponsored a Retrospective Show of eighty of his works from age ten to the present. His paintings were exhibited in several museums, are in many galleries as well as on permanent exhibit at the Vermont Land Trust, and were featured in the New York Times. Most of them are now in private collections. One of his greatest joys was co-exhibiting at Catamount Arts with his son: Rod’s paintings and Christopher’s photographs.
Although born in New Jersey, Rod always considered himself a Vermonter. As a matter of fact, his was the seventh generation of the Wells family to have lived in Danville, VT, a town that his fifth great-grandfather, Paul Wells, helped to found. As he summered in the Northeast Kingdom from early childhood, the Vermont landscape became the favorite subject of his paintings, even as a preteen. This love affair with the Vermont landscape had but deepened over the years.
Retiring from teaching in 1986, he and his wife, Terry, moved to Danville, and opened The Roderick Wells Art Gallery there, the fulfillment of his life-long dream. Although the gallery was closed when they moved to St. Johnsbury in 1995, Rod continued to paint and have exhibits.
Rod also enjoyed reading, gardening, building projects, walking and traveling. He was a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Church, member of the Fairbanks Museum, St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, Catamount Acts, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Knights of Pythias, Damon Lodge #16 in Danville. Above all, he was a kindly and dependable gentleman, a devoted husband, son, father, brother and patriot.
Surviving Rod is his daughter Karen Wells Rodriquez and her husband Daniel of Rocky Point, Long Island, his son Christopher Wells of Brooklyn, NY, stepson David Porrello of St. Johnsbury, grandson Johnny Rodriquez and wife Rachelle of Virginia, grandson Nickolas Porrello of Los Angles, CA, and great grandsons Greyson and Gabriel Rodriquez. Also, his sisters-in-law Janet W. Wells of Bellingham, WA and Mary McFadden of Boca Raton FL, brother-in-law Bernard McFadden and wife Barbara of Williamport, PA and several cousins, nieces, nephews and many friends.
He was predeceased by his wife Terry, his parents and Terry’s parents, his brother Capt. Gary Wells (USN Ret.), his sister Francena Van Voorhis and husband Lee of Marlborough, MA, sister-in-law Brenda Wells, stepson Mark Porrello, brother-in-law Thomas McFadden, several cousins, nieces, nephews and many friends.
A gathering will be held June 4th from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sayles Funeral Home, St. Johnsbury and a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Main St., St. Johnsbury at 2 p.m. on June 5th. Burial will follow at the Danville Green Cemetery following the funeral.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a contribution in his memory may direct it to the Good Shepherd Foundation, Box 146, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819.
Sayles Funeral Home, 525 Summer St., St. Johnsbury, VT is in charge of funeral arrangements. Memories and condolences may be shared at www.saylesfh.com.