Clayton Henry Wells, age 94, passed away on December 14th in Nashville, TN. Clayton was born on a farm near Vermontville, MI. Along with his three brothers, he learned to help on the farm at an early age, doing jobs such as milking cows and gathering eggs. He attended a one-room schoolhouse called the Wells School for his first three years of schooling. After that, he attended school in Vermontville and graduated Salutatorian in 1946. He attended college at Michigan State University but continued to help on his parents’ farm in the summers. He graduated with honors with a B.S. in general agriculture and a minor in education in 1950. He obtained his M.S. in agriculture, also from MSU, in 1953. In addition, he served in the National Guard, becoming a 1st Lieutenant in the infantry unit in 1954.
Clayton taught vocational high school agriculture in Galien, MI from 1950-52, and in Coldwater, MI from 1953-56. After that, he worked at Michigan State University as a Conference Consultant (‘57-65), Associate Director for the Office of International Extension (‘65-70), Assistant Director for University Conferences and Institutes (’71-72), and Director for University Conferences and Institutes until his retirement in 1994.
Clayton met and married the love of his life, Mary Jo, in 1961. They purchased a farm outside of Mason, MI in 1962 and had three children. Clayton raised Corriedale sheep from 1963-1994. He was the outstanding Corriedale Breeder of the Year in 1984 and the Purebred Producer of the Year in 1985. Clayton and Mary Jo continued to live on their farm for over 50 years.
After retirement, Clayton and Mary Jo traveled extensively around the United States and Canada in their travel trailer. They also purchased a condo in Port Aransas, TX and enjoyed inviting friends and family to visit them there during the winter. In 2021, they relocated to Nashville, TN to live closer to their youngest daughter.
Clayton was an avid reader and enjoyed reading about a variety of subjects. Combined with his background and education, he acquired a broad knowledge about subjects that were interesting to him and that he loved to discuss with others such as welding, plumbing, electrical wiring, carpentry, equipment repair, livestock, agriculture and current events.
One of the things Clayton enjoyed the most was doing things for other people. In his earlier years, he enjoyed making things for his kids, such as a slide, a sandbox, a dollhouse, and a go-cart. Later projects included cutting firewood with his granddaughter, rebuilding his brother’s barn after a hurricane, helping his kids with house repairs, and fixing a neighbor’s basement wall, among countless others. His generous spirit will be missed.
Clayton is survived by his brother, Maurice Wells (Ruth Ann Wells), and his children Valynda Wells (David Howard), Carlton Wells (Kathleen Wells), and Shauna Wells (John Fabke). He is also survived by grandchildren Rachel Wells, Clayton Wells II, Grace Lake (Justin Lake), Evan Howard, and Leslie Howard, and by great-grandchildren Wade Yelinek and Henry Lake.
A graveside service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on July 22nd at the Hillside Cemetery in Kalamo, MI.
Nashville Cremation Center is honored to be entrusted with handling Mr. Wells's arrangements. Please visit his tribute page to leave a thoughtful note for the family.