Fay Wells: 1913-2005

Former Blue Bunny chief and industry pioneer dies at 82.
Former Wells’ Dairy chief executive officer Fay Robert Wells, 82, died June 27. The youngest son of Wells’ Dairy founder Fred H. Wells Jr., who founded the company in 1913, Fay Wells was the co-chairman of the company board of directors of at the time of his death.
Wells began his lifetime career at age 16 and spent 62 years in the family business, retiring from day-to-day management of the company in January 2001. After graduating from Le Mars High School in 1941, he attended Iowa State University, enrolling in the dairy department’s creamery operators course, before serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II. After the war, Wells attended the University of Iowa and received his bachelor of science degree in commerce in 1949.
In the late 1950s, a partnership was formed between the original founder’s sons — Harold, Roy, Mike and Fay — and Fred D. Wells, son of Harry C. Wells. Fay Wells became president of the company in July 1977, and in 1990 was named chief executive officer and chairman of the board. Wells led the company at a time of tremendous growth for Wells’ Dairy and its Blue Bunny® brand of ice cream and dairy products. During his tenure, the company 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 was also active in leadership and served with distinction within many industry associations. He has served on the board of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and was past president of the International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers. In 1999 he received the IDFA’s highest honor, the Soaring Eagle Award, for his leadership and contribution to the dairy industry.
The death of Fay Wells came on the same day ground was broken for Wells’ Dairy’s new 178,000-square-foot corporate center on a 40-acre site southwest of Le Mars. The $26 million facility is scheduled to open in fall 2006.