Robert “Bob” B. Wells, 96, a longtime resident of Great Neck, passed away on Dec. 21, in Savannah, TN.
Born in Winchester, MA, on April 4, 1920, he graduated in 1940 from Massachusetts Nautical School, which was renamed Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1942. He moved to Great Neck later that year, and graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in 1941. At his passing, he was the oldest alumnus.
During World War II, Bob sailed on oil tankers in the Pacific and the North Atlantic. On one Murmansk run, the ship ahead and the ship behind his were sunk by enemy submarines. He had multiple stories published in Merchant Mariners at War, an oral history of WWII by George J. Billy and Christine M. Billy. In 1954, he began his teaching career at the USMMA, retiring in 1980 as an associate professor of engineering with the rank of commander. He served several terms as president of the Officers’ Club, and filled other leadership positions at the academy as well.
In 1947, Bob married D. Irene Lawson, whose family had been residents of Great Neck since 1928. Bob and Irene moved into their lifelong home on Morris Lane soon after their marriage. The house they purchased was built at the turn of the century without indoor plumbing. Using his considerable craftsman skills, working nights, weekends and vacations, he gradually transformed the small dwelling into a spacious, comfortable home. Irene, Bob’s wife of 37 years, passed away on Sept. 5, 1984. In November 2015, Bob moved to Tennessee to be with his daughter Diane.
Bob excelled in painting with watercolors, sculpture, building model ships and woodworking. He also enjoyed working outdoors, maintaining his property. When visiting Bob, he’d say, “All the paintings in the studio are for sale,” but he really couldn’t part with them. They adorned all his walls. However, he did sell one triptych to an eager buyer.
He is survived by four daughters: Dorothy Mazepa (Glenn), Wilmington, NC; Roberta Tabert (Mike), Longmont, CO; Diane Wells, Savannah, TN; and Shirley Dubay (Danny), Williamstown, KY; five grandchildren, six great grandchildren, two nephews and two nieces.
The family will be having a memorial service on Friday, June 9, at 10:30 a.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church, 855 Middle Neck Rd. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to USMMA Alumni Association & Foundation, Inc., 14 Bond St., #1000, Great Neck, NY 11021 or at www.usmmaaf.com.