John Wells Jr

Obituary of John Ralph Wells Jr

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John Ralph Wells, Jr. (Jack) 85, of Cleveland, Ohio passed away on November 27, 2023 in Thousand Oaks, California with his family by his side.

Jack was born on the Hale family farm (delivered by the town veterinarian) in Buffalo, Missouri to Hildreth Maxine and John Ralph Sr. on June 9, 1938.  When Jack was a young boy, his father served as a Navy Corpsman in Okinawa and was away for several years. His Aunt Mollie, Aunt Hazel and Aunt Freida helped care for him during that time. Jack (aka-Jackie) went to high school at Central High in Springfield, MO and graduated in 1956. Jack went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Drury College where he met his first wife, Katie. He continued his education at Michigan State University, earning his master’s degree in business administration in 1961. After graduate school he and Katie, returned to Missouri where they purchased and designed their first home together, and started their family in Lee’s Summit, MO. It was there that their two daughters, Rebecca and Robin, were born. During that time Jack worked for Western Electric and Clipper Manufacturing. In 1965 he was recruited to work in personnel management for Cole National based in Cleveland, Ohio. Jack and his family moved to Shaker Heights, Ohio where he and Katie raised their two daughters. In 1970 Jack began working for the non-profit organization, The Greater Cleveland Growth Association. He was instrumental in the revitalization of the Huron Mall and Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. It was one of his proudest achievements. He continued working as a personnel manager and Business Administrator for the architect firm, Dalton, Dalton, Little & Newport and the law firm, Hahn, Loeser. He eventually moved to Columbus, Ohio with his second wife, Donna, and continued his work at Schwartz, Kelm, Warren & Rubenstein. Working and volunteering for non-profits was his true passion. He served in the Attorney Generals office for Lee Fisher in the 1990’s. He went on to work for the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges, and in 1997 he oversaw the collaboration of five small liberal arts schools, Oberlin, Denison, Kenyon, Ohio Wesleyan and College of Wooster where he helped develop a consortium of communication and networking via computerized technology. He proudly served on the board of the Ohio Higher Educational Facilities Commission for many years. For 25 years he served as a Hospice volunteer with Kobacker House in Columbus, Ohio. He donated blood and platelets to the Red Cross throughout his lifetime and was on the bone marrow registry with He loved traveling the world with his wife, Donna, and spending time together at their lake house, Gull Cottage, on Lake Chautauqua. After the passing of his wife Donna, he enjoyed many years of playing cards and watching sunsets with his longtime friend and companion, Gerry. He was a sports aficionado and had an encyclopedic memory about all things sports. More than anything, he loved college sports, especially football and basketball. For many years, he and his brother, Jay, traditionally attended March Madness tournaments.  While growing up in Springfield, MO, he played baseball, and was an avid fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. He had a sharp wit and could hold court with anyone who would listen, even up until his final days. He was a master of philosophical sayings and words of encouragement. He would often impart his words of wisdom onto his two daughters such as, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” “Life isn’t fair,” “Keep your chin up,” “Go get ‘em kid,” and “Don’t eat yellow snow”.  His greatest pride and joy were his two daughters and his five grandchildren. He loved them unconditionally. His final years were spent with his family. 

Jack is survived by his brother and best friend, Jay and his sister(in-law), Patti, of Oklahoma City, two daughters; Rebecca Wells (Patty), Robin Reilly (Chris), and their mother, Katie Goodwin (Gerry), his five grandchildren; Connor Reilly, Brett Reilly, Nick Reilly, Sophie Wells and Grace Wells, his two nephews; Vance Wells (Kym) and Joseph Wells (Cara), and his great nieces and nephew; Hazel, Charlie, Maddie and Alton. He is preceded in death by his parents, Hildreth and John, his aunts, Mollie Dodson and Hazel Deck, his wife, Donna Leonetti, and longtime companion, Geraldine Schroeder.  

A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date and time.

A Foundation is being created in Jack’s memory. He was always a champion for those in need of a second chance. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Jack Wells Second Chance Foundation at 

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