A lifetime resident of the Williamsburg area, Donnie Wells passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, November 25, 2014, following a brief illness. He was 76.
Donnie was born in Hoasic, on September 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.
As a young boy, Donnie worked as a farmhand for neighbours Elgin and Olive McIntosh for 50 cents a week. Leaving work early one day meant having 25 cents docked from his pay.
During his teen years, Donnie worked for Miller’s Cheese factory until he obtained work with Ontario Hydro on the Seaway Project.
In the early hours of Christmas morning 1957, sadness hit the Wells family when Donnie’s brother Lyle was killed in a car accident. At this time, Donnie left Ontario Hydro to help on the family farm. As well as farming, Donnie drove a milk truck.
In 1961, Donnie’s life changed forever when he met and married a beautiful girl named Ellyn Casselman. She was the love of his life.
Shortly after their marriage, Donnie and Ellyn decided to start a family. Their first child Wesley was born too early on September 1, 1962 and lived only for a few hours.
Little Lloyd would be the second son, born in September 1963. Proud as could be, Donnie took Lloyd everywhere with him.
The family grew quickly with Garry arriving in 1966, Heather in 1967, David in 1969, and finally Kelly in 1972.
Donnie used to a joke that after he found out what was causing it, ‘we didn’t have any more kids’.
Donnie 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 sold the family farm. To keep busy, Donnie drove 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.
After retirement at 65 from the Parks, Donnie continue doing what he loved and starting 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 to work there until July of this year when he was forced to stop due to his illness.
Some of Donnie’s favourite pastimes were to visit friends and tour 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 occasions. Many family and friends gathered annually to help Donnie 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.
However, as every one knows, life doesn’t come without its ups and downs.
February 1987, was one of the hardest times of Donnie and Ellyn’s life when their 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 downsized and sold the farmhouse that Donnie had called home for over 60 years.
A beautiful new home was built in Williamsburg, by their son Lloyd. Once settled in, Donnie 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.
Donnie is survived by his wife Ellyn, by his children Lloyd (Jackie) of R.R.# 2 Williamsburg, Heather Wells-Baker (Ron) of R.R.# 1 Iroquois, David (Ruth) of R.R.# 1 Morrisburg and Kelly DeDekker (Greg) of Williamsburg and by his sister Muriel Gow of Morrisburg.
Donnie will be fondly remembered by grandchildren Michael, Jessica, Bailey, Maggie, Nicole, Chase, Drew, 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 Wells (nee Pemberton). He is also survived by nieces and nephews.
Friends called at the Marsden and McLaughlin Funeral Home, Williamsburg, on Friday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. An Oddfellows service was held on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m.
The funeral service was held at the South Dundas Lutheran Community Church, Williamsburg, on Saturday, November 29 at 11 a.m. with Rev. Diane Raddatz officiating.
Interment followed at New Union Cemetery, Williamsburg. Pallbearers were Glenn Pemberton, Gary Pemberton, Con Pemberton, Gordon Beckstead, Ronnie Hess and Lyal Kehoe.
Honorary pallbearers were John DeVries, Dale Casselman, Ralph Barkley, Scott Durant and Dave Baldwin.
Donations to the Williamsburg Oddfellows Lodge, South Dundas Lutheran Community Church or Dundas County Hospice would be gratefully acknowledged by the family. Online condolences may be made at marsdenmclaughlin.com.