Fay Wells, Dairy Industry Pillar, Dies at 82
Wells died June 27 in Rochester, Minn., from complications related to lymphoma. He was the youngest son of Wells' Dairy founder Fred H. Wells Jr.
Fay Wells' passing came about on the same day the company broke ground on a new $26 million headquarters in Le Mars. He had served as the co-chairman of the board of directors since retiring.
Wells was born May 20, 1923, to Fred and Miriam (Ralston) Wells in Le Mars. He started working for the family business at the age of 16, retiring from day-to-day management of the company on Jan. 1, 2001.
He served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. Wells then attended the University of Iowa and received his bachelor of science degree in commerce in 1949.
Wells became president of the company on July 1, 1977, and in 1990 was named chief executive officer and chairman of the board. During his tenure, Wells' Dairy became the largest family-owned and managed dairy processor in the United States, with product sales and distribution in all 50 states and several other countries.
Wells also served in IDFA and other industry and community organizations.
He is survived by his wife, Betty; three sons, Gary, Dan, and Doug; a daughter, Patricia Minthorn; two stepsons; 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
In an interview with Dairy Foods upon his retirement, Wells said the dairy was always a family business, and at times it was hard to differentiate between a company picnic and a family barbecue.
"There wasn't much difference," he said. "We'd talk business whenever it came up."
He also said he felt confident that his sons and those of Fred Wells would be successful.
"It's not like the third generation has just had this handed to them," he said. "They have been in very important jobs for quite a long time now and they are responsible for a great deal of the major growth we've had."