Story by Mikayla Marshall, Staff writer
The former mayor of Murray, Bill Wells, died Saturday morning from a rare brain disease.
Mayor Jack Rose and Murray City Council member, Dan Miller, confirmed he died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Wells was in office from 2011-14. When Wells was mayor, Murray was named the friendliest town in America by Randy McNally and USA TODAY.
“He was a dedicated public servant,” said Dan Miller, Murray City Council member. “I think in the 20 years he served on the City Council, he might have missed one meeting.”
Miller said what a punctual man Wells was and how he cared deeply for his community. He said that one of the best things Wells did was the management of “Make a Difference Day.”
“Make a Difference Days” are usually held three or four times a year on Saturday mornings. The community of Murray is encouraged to come out to the Roy Stewart Stadium and recycle items, such as plastic containers, magazines, glass and shoes. This special day, beginning in 1995, was co-founded by Wells and turned 10 back in March 2015. Miller said this day made a huge difference in the community and is the reason Murray is one of the leading recycling communities in the state.
Wells said in an interview with Murray State’s NPR station regarding the participation of the event, “I am so grateful to the people of Murray and Calloway County and surrounding counties.”
Many books and binders collected on those days are donated to the Murray and Calloway schools. Wells served as the principal of Murray High School, where the school received its first Excellence of Education Award in 1984 under his guidance. He received many honors and awards throughout his educational career, in which he was also middle school teacher and a guidance counselor. In 1991, Wells was named the Kentucky Principal of the Year.
“Bill Wells was a dedicated educator, selflessly devoting his life to our community,” said President Bob Davies. “He spent his career serving others, including several years as the intern coordinator at Murray State where he mentored hundreds of students. Murray State University has lost a great friend and supporter.”
After becoming a member of the Murray Rotary Club in 1984, he followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and became president of the club. Wells was a member of and held positions in many committees and organizations. He believed in service to his community and fellow citizens.
Wells was a faithful fan of Murray State athletics and academics. He was always thankful for the cooperation of Murray State during the “Make a Difference Days.”
He was not only faithful to the community and to God, but he was also faithful to his family. He left behind a wife, Anne Pence Wells, and two children, daughter Shannon Wells and son Adam Wells.
The brain disease Wells died from is very rare. Worldwide, it is estimated one case is diagnosed per million people each year, according to mayoclinic.org. It resembles dementia-like brain disorders, but usually progresses much more quickly.
Visitation will take place from 4-8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29 at the First United Methodist Church in Murray.
A Celebration of Life event has been scheduled for at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30.
Heritage Family Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.