William's Story

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Dr. William Wood Wells, 89, of Northport, passed away Monday, May 22, 2017 at home with his loving family at his side.
William "Bill" was born June 8, 1927 in Traverse City the son of Charles Cooper Wells and Anne Louise (Wood) Wells. On Aug. 19, 1950 at the Warren Street Presbyterian Church of Saginaw, he married his loving wife of 64 years, Helen Wayt Wells, who preceded him in death on June 7, 2015.
Bill was educated in Lansing and East Lansing schools and graduated from East Lansing High School, where he was both a scholar and athlete involved in tennis and football. After service in the U.S. Navy in World War II, Bill received his Bachelor of Science degree in zoology in 1949 and his Master of Science degree in biochemistry in 1951 from the University of Michigan, where he met Helen at a Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house party. After a year living in Kalamazoo, where Bill worked for the Upjohn Company, they left for Bill's doctorate study at the University of Wisconsin.
Bill accepted a faculty position in biochemistry at the School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, and they lived in the suburb of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, for nine years. In 1965 to 1966 the family enjoyed a sabbatical in Munich, Germany. Helen and Bill's family returned to Okemos, where Bill became professor of biochemistry at Michigan State University. Bill and family enjoyed camping across the USA, trips to inner Herron Island Maine and trips to other countries.
Bill retired from MSU, and in 1997 he and Helen built a home in Northport, where he was involved in the Northport schools teaching about chemistry and nutrition. Both Bill and Helen were members of the Village Voices of Northport, and the Northport Community Art Center Theatre.
Bill was active in music most of his life including playing the clarinet and singing with choral groups at the University of Michigan, MSU and at the Unitarian Church in Traverse City. Notable music activities included being part of the Renaissance Singers at MSU, clarinetist with the Northport Community Band and serving as choir director for the Unitarian Church in East Lansing.
Professor William W. Wells had an illustrious, scholarly career, having made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the metabolism of steroids, phosphoinositides and vitamin C. He authored more than 125 refereed publications and 18 invited book chapters. Dr. Wells served on the editorial boards of Hypertension and the Journal of Biological Chemistry and numerous advisory panels and study sections for NIH, NSF, the American Heart Association and the American Chemical Society. Dr. Wells was an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association and was recipient of a Distinguished Faculty Award from the College of Human Medicine. He trained over 40 doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows and as professor emeritus hosted the William W. Wells Endowed Lectureship at MSU.
Bill is survived by his four children, Thomas C. Wells, Christopher D. (Dotty) Wells, Jon W. (Edie) Wells and Anne W. (Jim) Pocock; nine grandchildren, Becki, Michael, Scott, Kevin and Jessica Wells, Elizabeth (Nathaniel) Tracy and Bryant, Spencer and Kyle Pocock; and 10 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Helen; two sisters, Elizabeth Benson and Polly Watson; a daughter-in-law, Dawn Anne Wells; and a grandson, Timothy Wells.
A celebration of Bill's life will be held at the Northport Marina Pavilion on Bay Street on Saturday. June 10, at 3 p.m. Seating is limited; lawn chairs are encouraged. In case of rain, we will meet at the Trinity Church in Northport on North Warren Street.
Memorials may be directed to Leelanau Conservancy, PO Box 1007, Leland, MI 49654 and/or Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Grand Traverse, 6726 Center Road, Traverse City, MI 49686.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the Wells family at www.martinson.info.
Arrangements are with the Martinson Funeral Home & Cremation Services of Leelanau.
Published on June 4, 2017
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