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December 25, 1935 - June 27, 2016
George Murray Wells
December 25, 1935 ~ June 27, 2016
On the morning of June 27, 2016, George passed away of Natural causes at home with his loving wife, Maria at his side. He was 80 years old. George Murray Wells was born in Denver, Colorado on December 25, 1935. He was the only child of Gladys Imogene Wells on nee Gow and Reginald Harry Wells.
George grew up in the Sloan Lake neighborhood of Denver, graduated from Denver’s North High School in 1954. He attended the University of Colorado at Boulder from Fall 1954 until withdrawing on September 20, 1958. He received a letter from the President of the United States that fall and was drafted into the United States Army. After basic training, he shipped out of Brooklyn, New York to Hamburg, West Germany for two years of service in West Germany between 1959 and 1961. He often enjoyed telling stories of his time in the service, including the fact that he served concurrently with Elvis Presley—though only one of the two privates had use of their own jeep and driver.
Upon returning to the States in the Spring of 1961, George re-enrolled at the university and by Spring 1963 graduated with a B.A. in Political Science. He could have picked from one of several majors, however, having amassed 447 credits—nearly enough for three degrees. George often described completing in two years at CU, after returning from the Service, what he had not done in the previous four.
George got his first “real job” for the Department of Social Services for Mesa County in Grand Junction in about 1964. After a couple years, he changed employment to the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (Voc-Rehab), first the Grand Junction office and then the Montrose office, where he retired in 1996. For more than 33 years. George was responsible for delivering vocational rehabilitation services to thousands of clients in Montrose, Delta, Ouray, San Miguel, San Juan , and Gunnison counties—a sparsely populated, stunningly beautiful, and rugged region of southwestern Colorado larger than a number of smaller states. He was known to pull every trick in the bureaucratic book to get resources for training for the people he cared about—the men and women who had been injured or disabled in a way that made it hard to earn a living (as miners, or farmers, or construction workers) and that required them to retrain in another field. He was passionate and effective at helping people help themselves and their families by returning to employment.
Among George’s other passions, perhaps none were more evident or long-lasting then his love for good music. In particular, that of Perry Como. He produced dozens of mix tapes for sharing with his family—often times with a brief recorded message of love of or commentary like a DJ at the beginning of each tape. George’s love of Music was rooted in his service as a choirboy at St. John’s
Episcopal Cathedral in Denver, and continued to the very end of his life.
Besides music, political and international affairs were George’s primary intellectual interest. George believed passionately in a strong and confident United States actively engaged in world affairs. He grew up during World War II and saw the successful postwar rebuilding of Europe and Japan as the template for a just and engaged America. He told the story of hearing playground taunts during the 1948 election—”Dewey in the White House, Truman in the ashcan” –and beamed with joy describing his return to school after Truman had triumphed. He remembered seeing the front pages of Denver newspapers as a fourteen year old, showing the North Korean armies sweeping across South Korea in the summer of 1950. A life-long Democrat, George supported Adlai Stevenson for President in 1952 and 1956—before George was old enough to vote. He reported on Stalin’s death in a high school sociology paper—and noted that no one went to the tyrant’s rescue for several hours as he lay dying. He was a supporter of Hubert Humphrey in good measure for his early advocacy for civil rights for all Americans—a cause that George worked for in every aspect of his own life—and was dismayed as the party of working people, civil rights, and international engagement struggled in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
George moved with his father Reginald and son Randy to Montrose in 1972, living first on Ridge Street and then Avon Avenue. George married Maria Elena Sanchez in February 1974, at a ceremony attended by their sons Randy and Angelo in Delta, Colorado. In 1976 George and Maria moved their family to 1009 Centennial Drive in Montrose. In George’s later years, he delivered flowers for Alpine Floral in Montrose. He was proud of his ability to find almost any address, no matter how remote and far more reliably than GPS due to his many years of experience driving all over Colorado’s Western Slope for voc-rehab. That changed dramatically in the last decade of George’s life, and Maria carried the overwhelming responsibility of care for him for several years.
George and Maria cared for each other very much. They built a strong a loving marriage of more than 42 years. Over more than four decades, they raised two successful sons as they gardened, cooked, fished and made numerous trips around western Colorado, to southern California, and northern Mexico to visit family and vacation. During retirement, George and Maria made numerous trips to Mexico, Washington DC, Florida, and even once to Puerto Rico—most usually to visit their sons and other family members. George was preceded in death by his mother, Gladys Imogene, in 1972 and his father, Reginald, in 1985. George is survived by his wife Maria of Grand Junction, his son and daughter-in-law Angelo and Karla of Ft. Collins, his son and daughter-in-law Randy and Ondine, daughter Kristina, granddaughters Shaunita and Aleida, and grandson Eli, all of Gainesville, Florida.
George chose to donate his body to science and medical research, as did his mother. In lieu of services, please visit http://www.grandvalleyfuneralhomes.com/notices/George-Wells for posting condolences and messages to the family, sharing photographs, and most importantly for celebrating the wonderful life and contributions of George Murray Wells. He will be deeply missed, but his spirit lives on in his family and the many thousands whose lives he touched. Memorial contributions may be made to HopeWest Hospice, 3090 North 12th Street, Grand Junction, Co. 81506. A Memorial Service in memory of George M. Wells will be held on Friday, August 12, 2016 at 11:00 A.M. at St. Mary Catholic Church, in Montrose. Crippin Funeral Home & Crematory in Montrose, is assisting the family.