James Gowlan Wells “Jim” died on Sunday, December 12, 2021 at his home in the Pine Grove community of Hood River, Oregon.
He was born on April 10, 1946 in Hood River, Oregon to W. Gowlan Wells and Jeannette L. Wells (Cochran). He was the first born of 5 children of the 4th generation of orchardists in Pine Grove. He attended Pine Grove Elementary school, Mid Valley junior high, and graduated from Wy’East High School in 1964. Jim was involved in band, wrestling, and FFA. After high school, Jim attended Oregon State University earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture Economics. While at OSU (Go Beavs!) he was in the marching band, having the honor of marching in the Rose Bowl in 1965.
During college, Jim married his high school sweetheart Wilma Jean Cookston. They were married at the Odell Baptist Church on June 18, 1966.
After college, Jim and Jean returned home to work on the family orchard and celebrated the birth of their daughter, Cynthia Jean Wells on October 6, 1968. Shortly after Cindy’s birth, Jim enlisted in the United States Air Force and left for Basic Training in March of 1969. After basic and tech school, Jim was deployed to Germany where Jean and Cindy joined him. They traveled extensively in their VW Bus, and enjoyed life in Europe for 3 years.
Following his military service, in 1973 Jim returned to Hood River to farm pears and apples with his family. Shortly after returning to Hood River, Jim and Jean’s son Devon James Wells was born on October 23, 1973.
For the following 48 years, Jim was involved in numerous farming related committees and boards. He was a BSA Scoutmaster for many years, earning recognition as the District Scoutmaster of the Year in 1995. Jim was most proud of his involvement in the emergency services. Jim was a Life Member of the Crag Rat Mountain Rescue team and was heavily involved in all facets of their responses up to his death. Jim was also a Firefighter/EMT for the Pine Grove/Wy’East Fire Districts for 48 years, retiring in 2018 at the rank of Assistant Fire Chief. Additionally, Jim was a volunteer ski patrolman at the Cooper Spur Ski Area for many years in the 1980’s and 90’s. He was very passionate about serving others and being a leader. He was an avid teacher and loved helping others learn things he was involved in.
He was very involved in community by volunteering as the Skate Club President at Pine Grove Elementary School for over a decade, taking elementary students on school field trips to teach them about orienteering, life skills, outdoor survival, and other important topics. He was also a lifelong member of the Immanuel Lutheran Church serving on committees, teaching Sunday School, and helping with numerous activities.
Jim enjoyed traveling especially to Mexico and Central America to tour the many Mayan ruins available there. He also loved his return trips to Europe and a special trip to China with daughter Cindy. His favorite summertime family trip was to the Cove Palisades State Park in Central Oregon. He went to the Cove every year for 47 years, waterskiing, camping, and enjoying the hot summer days with his friends and family. He loved the outdoors, “his” Mt. Hood, and camping. He was the best fan for his grandkids in all their sporting, band, and other events in life. He loved his grandkids and found immense joy in being around them.
Jim is survived by his wife Jean of 55 years, daughter Cindy Wells of Hood River and son Devon Wells (Tia) of Hood River. Grandchildren Acacia Wiseman (Brian) of Philomath, Kelsey Smith (Zach) of Hood River, Tanner Wells (Kelsey) of Pleasant Grove, UT, Myla Blachly of Philomath, Zac Wells, Cooper Wells, and Ian Wells all of Hood River. Great-grandchildren (baby girl arriving in March 2022 to Kelsey and Zach Smith). Siblings Sandra Haek (Jim) of Beaverton, John Wells (Susie) of Hood River, Annie Ward of Salem, and Nancy Waller (Dave) of Hood River. He has numerous nephews, nieces, cousins, and in-laws.
Jim is preceded in death by his parents W. Gowlan Wells (2015) and Jeannette Louise (Cochran) in 2003. Jim was laid to rest at the Pine Grove Butte Cemetery on Dec 18, 2021 with Military Honors and numerous family and friends in attendance.
Donations in Jim’s name can be made to the Hood River Crag Rat mountain rescue team.
A time for friends and family to celebrate Jim’s life is planned for 2:00 p.m., Saturday, December 18th, 2021 at The Crag Rat Hut (960 Crag Rat Hut Road, Hood River, Oregon 97031). Family services at Immanuel Lutheran Church and burial at Pine Grove Butte Cemetery will precede Jim’s celebration of life service.
A time for friends to greet with family and viewing is planned for 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Friday, December 17th, 2021 at Anderson's Tribute Center (Funerals • Receptions • Cremations) 1401 Belmont Avenue, Hood River, Oregon 97031.
Visit www.AndersonsTributeCenter.com to leave a note of condolence for the family.