In praise of Dr. Wells

The Compass - - OPINION -

It’s one thing to hear praise be­ing heaped on some­one you’ve never met, but it’s not un­til you in­ter­act with this per­son that you can truly mea­sure their char­ac­ter and mo­tives.

Even those with a medi­ocre judg­ment of char­ac­ter can sense if some­one is gen­uinely kind, car­ing and com­pas­sion­ate. Those are hard traits to coun­ter­feit, es­pe­cially over any length of time.

Those at­tend­ing a unique cer­e­mony and birthday cel­e­bra­tion in Car­bon­ear last week got to see first-hand the true essence of a man who is both re­spected and revered among many of a cer­tain vin­tage in the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion re­gion.

We’re talk­ing about Dr. Les­lie A. Wells, an Ir­ish­man who spent prac­ti­cally his en­tire med­i­cal ca­reer per­form­ing surg­eries on pa­tients at the hospi­tal in Car­bon­ear. He re­tired more than two decades ago, and now lives in St. John’s, close to his two sons, a daugh­ter and four grand­chil­dren.

Dr. Wells and his fam­ily do­nated an elab­o­rate sun­dial to the town on the same day he marked his 87th birthday. True to form, the good doc­tor was amaz­ingly spir­ited, witty and ro­bust. In short, the pic­ture of health, no doubt the re­sult of a strong com­mit­ment to his own health over the decades.

Dr. Wells, along with his Scot­tish wife Christina, came to this re­gion more than a half-cen­tury ago. He had dif­fi­culty land­ing any mean­ing­ful work in his home­land, where sur­geons were in great sup­ply at the time, and chose Car­bon­ear over other des­ti­na­tions, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

They de­cided less than a year into their stint in Car­bon­ear that they would make it their home, and that they did, in many ways. Dr. Wells be­came a work­horse at the hospi­tal, per­form­ing all sorts of surg­eries, and the cou­ple raised their fam­ily in the town. All three have gone on to launch suc­cess­ful ca­reers of their own.

His rep­u­ta­tion as a car­ing, hard work­ing and pas­sion­ate doc­tor is as strong to­day in many cir­cles as it ever was, and that was ev­i­dent last week when one for­mer pa­tient, Vi­ola Clarke, de­scribed Dr. Wells as a “won­der­ful man” who did so much for the area and “we all loved him.”

We also learned last week that Dr. Wells will be the pa­tron for the 2012 New­found­land and Labrador Sum­mer Games, which will be co-hosted by the towns of Car­bon­ear and Har­bour Grace from Aug. 18-25.

Though he left Car­bon­ear a long time ago, the re­gion and its peo­ple still hold a place dear in his heart. He proved that last week with his very unique do­na­tion to the town, which was his way of say­ing thanks for the out­stand­ing treat­ment he re­ceived dur­ing his work­ing ca­reer. The sun­dial will no doubt at­tract tourists and serve as a sci­en­tific teach­ing tool long into the fu­ture, and is a fit­ting and unique ges­ture from a man who de­serves all the ad­mi­ra­tion and grat­i­tude we can muster.

— Terry Roberts

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