Roger

November 4, 1928 ~ August 9, 2020

Born in: Sturgis, MI
Resided in: Manhattan Beach, CA

ROGER ALMON WELLS
(1928 – 2020)

Roger Wells was born in Sturgis, Michigan, on November 4, 1928, to Maurice and Marjorie Wells.  He and his older brother Herb attended K–12 school there, developing friendships that would last to the end of their lives. After graduating from Tri-State University (now Trine) in 1948 with an electrical engineering degree, Roger relocated to Jasper, Alabama, where his skills as a radio engineer (and his profoundly deep bass voice) had landed him a job in radio broadcasting. He enjoyed regaling friends and family with tales of his time at WWWB, which was owned at that time by the prominent Brockman-Bankhead family.

During the Korean War, Roger left broadcasting to enlist in the United States Air Force. He took basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and subsequently blazed through a 14-week course at the Biloxi Airborne Radar School in just 3 weeks. He was then assigned to the National Security Agency in Washington, D.C., where he served as a communications R&D officer, achieved the rank of first lieutenant, and held a TOP SECRET/Crypto clearance. He never did speak of his work there.  While in the service Roger met his first wife, Bernadine (Couture) Wells, with whom he raised his two children, Doug and Sue. The family relocated to Southern California, where Roger worked as the western regional supervisor for UNIVAC, a pioneering computer company that ultimately evolved into the UNISYS Corporation. After UNIVAC, Roger’s career took him on to Control Data Corporation, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and GM Hughes Electronics. After retiring from GM Hughes, Roger continued to work for Computer Sciences Corporation into his seventies.

Roger was involved with the computer industry ever since it employed vacuum tubes and punch cards, at times brushing shoulders with such greats as Seymour Cray. During his tenure at JPL he supervised a computer interface engineering group at the Space Flight Operations Facility, which designed and implemented near-real-time processing of telemetry information from the outer planets (think Voyager and Mariner). He also became president of the JPL Hiking Club and joined its volunteer trail maintenance crew. This reignited his long-standing passion for the wilderness, and for the Sierra in particular.

Under Roger’s leadership the JPL Hiking Club grew to 400 members, with outings scheduled for nearly every weekend of the year. The club trips and slide shows became legendary—and so did Roger. His monikers included “the backpack with legs” (he was rumored to carry whole cantaloupes and bottles of good-natured alcohol) and “Mr. Trash.” This honorific was bestowed on him for his unswerving dedication to removing others’ discarded trash wherever he found it, often packing it out over miles of trail. When his backpacking days were done Roger transferred that dedication to cleaning up the streets and beaches of his hometown.

It was on a JPL club outing that Roger met his second wife, Crescent (Boccardi) Wells, whom he married on December 3, 1983. They made their home in Manhattan Beach, California, and spent their days together deeply in love. They enjoyed visiting family and friends and exploring new vistas. Roger celebrated life, laughter, the wilderness, and the wonder of the universe. Above all he celebrated people—whether at work, his favorite coffee shop, on the trail, or on the street. There were no strangers in Roger’s world.

Roger passed peacefully at his home on August 9, 2020, in the arms of his beloved wife, Crescent. He is also survived by his children, Doug (Carol)) and Sue (Bob); his granddaughters Catherine, Lisa (Ozzie), Rachel, and Kimberly; and his great grandchildren Olivia, Colt, and Penelope. He will be remembered and missed by all who knew him.

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  1. candle 8Rest in peace Dad. You were such a wonderful Father…..kind, generous, funny, and so much fun! I will cherish my memories. Miss you dearly. Love always, Sue

  2. candle 4Roger was such a lovely soul — so devoted to family; so kind and caring; so passionate about his beloved outdoors. I’m glad you and he shared so many good years, Crescent. Much love to the rest of his family, as well. He made the world a better place, and will be sorely missed. But fondly remembered.

    xoxo

  3. candle 4Crescent

    We will be sending prayers to you and your family during this time of healing. What a blessing to share your life with your soulmate.

    Kaye and Peter Piechotta

  4. candle 7Ib wish we had the pleasure to know him , it looks the the two of you have shared a wonderlife together , love and prayers to the family and friends he left behind. He will be missed. Do not doubt his new gained power in strenght is spirit in your lives!

  5. candle 1My Mother Dorothy H. Nye was Rogers cousin. They lived too far apart to spend time together but she always had fond memories of him. I never got the chance to meet him, only thru photos. My mother preceded him in passing on. Debby Nye

  6. candle 1Dear Crescent, I only know you thru photos & from Sue yet I know you have a huge heart. I can see that you & Rodger made a good couple & had many happy times. He was very lucky to have you in his life. May he rest in peace & may you find comfort that he no longer suffers the changes that age brings to all of us. With love, a cousin may times removed, Debby

  7. candle 4A very dear friend with whom I enjoyed many luncheons with mutual friends.
    He will be greatly missed. He was a blessing to all. May God bless Crescent during this time, Jack Parker

  8. candle 7Almost impossible to think of Roger and not have a memory of Crescent, too! I remember so clearly the few times I gave Crescent a ride home from work how excited he was just to see her walk through the front door! The two of you were, and always will be, magical together. He will be there beside you, always, Crescent…always, all ways.

  9. Crescent, in addition to being a babe as well as a genius, Roger was a man of such dignity, charm, and humor. Remember the gyroscopic compass he bought you so we wouldn’t get lost again in South L.A.? I’ll always treasure memories of our breakfasts at the Marmalade Cafe.

  10. candle 6It’s so hard to believe that he has gone on to the next adventure. For years you two were headed away for a long weekend to parts unknown. You have some wonderful memories to look back on. We are grateful for the good times that we shared. I love your slide show, Crescent! It really shares Roger’s life with us. Roger, you are missed by us all.

  11. candle 4A touching, perfect memorial to Roger, Crescent, beautifully done. I’m convinced that Roger is already mixing margaritas and gluhwein for the heavenly hosts, while relating stories in his deep bass radio voice and chuckling that endearing Roger chuckle. He’s busy organizing backpacking, cross-country skiing, day-hiking, and camping trips for them, because that was — and is! — heaven for Roger. And as you so aptly said in this tribute, to Roger no one was a stranger, only a future fellow adventurer to be welcomed to the fold. That’s why we all loved him, and will miss him so. May God grant you peace.

  12. candle 4Rest In Peace dear, sweet Roger.❤️ I won’t ever forget him or his infectious smile. Roger warmed my heart each time I visited. It was an honor to be able to get to know him, even if only in a small way. God bless you Cresent. May God’s love comfort you in this time.
    Love, Tammy Gonzales

  13. candle 4Crescent,
    This is such a touching memorial. Roger was a great man. We are so blessed to have known him. Sending much love to you.
    Tamara, Trent and James

  14. candle 4There was no one like Roger. He was a man of men. He was a hiker/backpacker of hiker/backpackers. He was also super lucky (and possibly charming)–he found, and married Crescent. That super power is hard to beat. Oh, yes, he also liked wine. Thinking of our JPL days of adventure–from your alter ego.

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