Donnie Wells, a lifetime resident of the Williamsburg area, passed away peacefully at home on Tues., Nov. 25, 2014, following a brief illness. He was 76.
Donnie was born in Hoasic on Sept. 8, 1938 to John and Kezia Wells (nee Pemberton). His birth followed the birth of two sets of twins. When he was eight years old, his parents sold the farm and moved to a better farm on Strader Hill Road.
He started working as a young boy. His very first job was that of a farmhand for neighbours Elgin and Olive McIntosh. He worked for 50 cents a week, but leaving work early one day meant having 25 cents docked from his pay. During his teen years, he worked for Miller’s Cheese factory until moving on to Ontario Hydro where he worked on the Seaway Project.
In the early hours of Christmas morning 1957, sadness hit the Wells family when his brother, Lyle, was killed in a car accident. That is when Donnie left Ontario Hydro to help on the family farm. As well as farming, he drove a milk truck.
In 1961, his life changed forever when he met and married a beautiful girl named Ellyn Casselman. She was the love of his life. Shortly after getting married, Donnie and Ellyn decided to start a family. Their first child, Wesley, was born too early on Sept 1, 1962, and only lived a few hours. Little Lloyd would be the second son, born in Sept 1963. Proud as could be, Donnie would take Lloyd everywhere with him. The family grew quickly with Garry arriving in 1966, Heather in 1967, David in 1969, and finally Kelly in 1972. He used to always joke that after he found out what was causing it, we didn’t have any more kids.
He was incredibly proud of each addition to the family. As if having five kids of their own wasn’t challenging enough, Donnie and Ellyn opened their home to numerous foster children, at one time having a total of nine children in their home. This made for a busy, but fun homestead. Although having fun was important, being made to mind, and having respect was something Donnie made sure he instilled in his children.
In 1981, Donnie and Ellyn decided to sell the family farm. To keep busy, Donnie drove a school bus, a job he enjoyed as he had a true love for children. By 1985, he moved on to work for the St. Lawrence Parks Commission where he drove a mower. He retired at 65 from the “parks,” but decided to continue doing what he loved, and started working at Nationview Golf Course. Working a few days a week, he really took pleasure in his work, and met many new people at the course. He continued working there until July of this year when he was forced to stop due to his illness.
Some of Donnie’s favourite pastimes were visiting friends, and touring the countryside. It didn’t matter if Donnie knew a person when they walked into the room, he would certainly know them when they left. Garage parties were another of Donnie’s favourite things to do. Many family and friends would gather annually to help him and Garnet Stata celebrate their birthdays. These parties were a way for neighbours, friends, and family to gather and have a great time. Many of these Saturday night parties would end late on Sunday.
But as everyone knows, life doesn’t come without its ups and downs. February 1987 was one of the hardest times of his life. Donnie and Ellyn’s son Garry was in a car accident, and died a week later from his injuries. Life again had changed, but the family grew stronger. Another difficult time came five years ago when Donnie and Ellyn decided to downsize and sold the farmhouse that Donnie had called home for more than 60 years. A beautiful new home was built in Williamsburg by their son Lloyd. Once settled in, he was happy in his new surroundings, and it didn’t take him long to meet and become friends with many of his new neighbours.
That was what Donnie was all about. Meeting new friends, keeping up with his old friends, but, most of all, just being a good friend.
He is survived by his wife, Ellyn Wells, his children, Lloyd (Jackie) of RR #2 Williamsburg, Heather Wells-Baker (Ron) of RR #1 Iroquois, David (Ruth) of RR #1 Morrisburg, and Kelly DeDekker (Greg) of Williamsburg, and his sister, Muriel Gow of Morrisburg. He will be fondly remembered by his grandchildren, Michael, Jessica, Bailey, Maggie, Nicole, Chase, Drew, and Tyler, and his great-grandson, Jayden. He was predeceased by his infant son, Wesley, his son, Garry, his brother, Lyle, and his parents, John and Kezia. He is also survived by nieces and nephews.
Friends called at the Marsden and McLaughlin Funeral Home in Williamsburg on Fri., Nov. 28 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 pm. An Odd Fellows service was held on Friday evening at 6:30 pm. The funeral service was held at the South Dundas Lutheran Community Church in Williamsburg on Sat., Nov. 29 at 11 am, with Rev. Diane Raddatz officiating. Interment followed the service at New Union Cemetery in Williamsburg. The pallbearers were Glenn Pemberton, Gary Pemberton, Con Pemberton, Gordon Beckstead, Ronnie Hess, and Lyal Kehoe. The honourary pallbearers were John DeVries, Dale Casselman, Ralph Barkley, Scott Durant, and Dave Baldwin.
Donations to the Williamsburg Odd Fellows Lodge, South Dundas Lutheran Community Church, or the Dundas County Hospice would be gratefully acknowledged by the family.
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