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Devon Wells, at far right, Sparky and another firefighter attended an event for the downtown Bark Park. Photo courtesy Pat Henry. Wells was not only a firefighter, but active in the community in various ways.
Community mourns loss of Dewon Wells
By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer

The Montgomery County Fire Dept. is mourning the loss of a long-time firefighter/paramedic this week.

James “Dewon” Wells, 52, was found unresponsive at his home on Stone Creek Drive Saturday. He was transported to St. Joseph Mt. Sterling Hospital, where he was pronounced dead by Montgomery County Coroner Jimmy Adams at 5:37 p.m.

Wells’ body was sent for an autopsy, but foul play is not suspected, Adams said.

Wells was a 25-year veteran of the Montgomery County Fire Dept. He also served the community through volunteer efforts with several groups.
“If people had one tenth of what he had it would be a great world,” said Pat Henry, president of the animal rescue organization Love of Paws with whom Wells was active. “There was something about him that made you want to strive to be a better person.”

Wells graduated from Bryan Station High School in Lexington and attended the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Western Kentucky and Mid-Continent universities, earning a bachelor’s of business administration degree.

At 25, Wells became passionately involved in the fire and emergency management services, according to his obituary.

He started out as a firefighter, but also became a paramedic in 1991.
Wells served with the Owingsville Fire Dept. and Fleming County EMS before joining the MCFD, where he served for the past 25 years, most recently as administrative assistant to the chief.

Fire Chief Mike Mosbey, who credits Wells with helping him learn the ropes when he came on board in 2000, said the news of Wells’ loss came as a shock.

The dept. was already reeling from the 2015 loss of Capt. Zach Clevenger, who died after helping fight a fire in Estill County, and Battalion Chief Tony Clayton, who died in 2013 following a battle with leukemia.

Clayton was a well loved firefighter with a big personality and Clevenger was viewed as an emerging star within the dept. Wells was seen as the steadying influence and all around “go-to guy” for most everything, Mosbey said.

“It’s difficult when you lose people like that,” the chief said. “Those guys were all key figures in this dept. They were big contributors to our dept. When you lose someone like that your dept. really does take a hit. It’s a big challenge for us. We have to heal first and figure out where we go from here.”

Mosbey said the dept. will rally around each other in an effort to cope with the loss.

“We’re one big family,” he said, “so when you lose somebody it devastates you.”

Mosbey said Wells was led to the fire dept. and other volunteer roles by a deep-seated desire to serve the community.

“With the fire dept. there’s no better way to do that,” he said.
While with the fire dept. Wells led the Montgomery County CARES program that used money from payroll deductions to help various charities and community service organizations.

Wells also served as a volunteer helping other charitable organizations such as Pinky’s Promise and Arms of Love.

Henry said Wells was the ideal volunteer because he wasn’t afraid to put his boots on the ground and do whatever was necessary.

She said he once bought all the Christmas gifts for one teen rather than see her go with little or nothing and was known to pay the veterinary bills of injured animals that were not his own.

“He’s probably the nicest man I’ve ever met here on this earth,” Henry said. “He was always there when you needed him. He was the type of person anyone would want as a friend.”

Condolences poured in via social media following Wells’ death.
City Council member Dr. Danielle King recognized Wells for his community service.

“My heart is saddened!!!,” she wrote. “Dewon Wells, Mont Co. fire fighter, was a fine person. He was one of the volunteer chefs for our Farm to Table event last summer. Always willing to help even when not on duty. Love and prayers to his family and friends.”

Chris Hall wrote a letter addressed to Wells in which, he said: “I sure don’t know how to express how I feel right now. I know where you are, that’s comforting in itself. You sure did have a big ole heart, I do know that and no one can argue that fact.”

Hall, a former local firefighter currently employed as a police officer, wrote that he appreciated Wells checking in on him while he was at the police academy.

“I find myself questioning why things happen, even though I’m not supposed to,” Hall wrote. “I’m just going to ask one more thing of you ole buddy. Tell Tony and Zach I said hello and I miss them. I’m gonna miss you, I love you ole man, and we will take it from here.”

Jailer Eric Jones also commented on the loss.
“Myself and the entire staff at MCRJ (Montgomery County Regional Jail) would like to ask for prayers for our BROTHERS and SISTERS at the MCFD,” Jones wrote. “Not only is it a huge loss to the dept., but it’s a loss to our entire community. I’ve truly lost a great friend and mentor who I’ve looked up to for many years. He was instrumental in the Arms of Love toy drive that serves hundreds of kids in our county. I have proudly worked beside him in this project as well as with the Love of Paws. I will miss you my friend and THANK YOU is not nearly enough for your service to Montgomery Co. Brother we love you ... ”

Tonia Rice Witt, founder of The TERF Project Inc., offered condolences as well. She said a plaque on the Hungry Hearts Pantry Box located at Station 1 (High Street) will read “IN MEMORY OF Dewon Wells.”
“Today my heart is broken,” Witt wrote upon hearing the news of Wells’ death. “Personally because I have lost a friend, a supporter and a mentor. But also because the community lost a great man, someone who loved his community (especially the kids) and those he served. Thank you for your service to the MCFD, to The TERF Project Inc. and the many other organizations and lives you touched. I am better for having known you.”

Flags at fire stations across the county were flown at half staff this week. Fire station 2 at the Bypass was decorated with Wells’ unit number, 361, in his memory.

The Mt. Sterling police station on Bank Street went red to honor Wells following his death.

“Dewon lived his life doing what he loved, serving his community. Please keep his family in your prayers,” the dept. posted on social media.
Visitation was held 4-9 p.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church, 925 Woodford Drive. Funeral services, with full firefighter honors, will be conducted 1 p.m. Thursday, at the church. Internment will follow at Machpelah Cemetery.

Montgomery County Intermediate, McNabb Middle and Montgomery County High schools were expected to dismiss up to 10 minutes early Wednesday due to anticipated traffic expected for visitation.
Wells is survived by his wife, Lori Ann Lawson Wells; his mother, Sandra Osborne Helton of Lexington; his father, James Edwin Wells and stepmother Patty of Versailles; two sons, MSgt. Jason McClanahan and Rebecca of Las Vegas, Nev., and 2LT Jeremy McClanahan and Dana of Mt. Sterling; one daughter, Sarah McClanahan of Mt. Sterling; and three grandchildren, Alexander, Jillian and Ava.

For complete obituary information, see Page A9.

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