Nash County Commissioner Mary P. Wells died Sunday evening, leaving Nash County District 6 without a representative and leaving many in the county bereaved at her loss.
Wells was 84 years old at the time of her death.
“It with great sadness that I inform you that Commissioner Mary Wells passed away last night. Please keep Mary and her family, especially her devoted husband Talmadge, in your prayers,” Nash County Manager Zee Lamb said in a statement to the “Nash family” released Monday morning. “Commissioner Wells cared so much about her Nash County family. Nash County is a better place today because of her contributions to the community. We will sorely miss her love and unwavering support for her fellow commissioners and our employees.”
Wells had been suffering from ill health for the past several months, trying faithfully to attend as many Nash County board meetings as possible between hospitalizations and recovery at home.
Nash County board Chairman Robbie Davis said he was surprised at the news of her death.
“Naturally, the call we got last night about 11 p.m. from our clerk and from the pastor at Mary’s church came as a big shock. We all knew Mary was in declining health, but it came much sooner than any of us thought,” Davis said Monday in an interview.
Davis said that Wells’ passing is a big loss to the county board.
“The board will sorely miss working with Mary as she was the board member that made all of us try harder to always be there as we knew she would be,” Davis said. “Mary Wells was a very tough lady as could be seen the last 18 months as she rarely missed a meeting no matter how bad she felt. She should be an inspiration to any and everyone with declining health.”
Wells joined the Nash County Board of Commissioners after the resignation of Board Chairman J. Claude May on Feb. 2, 2009. Upon his resignation, Wells was recommended for appointment by the Nash County Democratic Party Executive Committee.
The Nash County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously at a special called meeting on Feb. 27, 2009, to appoint Wells to the District 6 seat. She was sworn into office on March 9, 2009, and served in that role for 12 years, winning three elections to that seat since her appointment.
With her loss, Nash County commissioners will need to appoint another Democrat to fill her seat until the 2022 election. No date has yet been set to make that appointment. However, state law requires that the appointment be made within 60 days or the matter will be turned over to the clerk of the Superior Court to decide.
Davis said her shoes will be hard to fill.
“I do not think you will find a more community service-oriented person than Mrs. Wells. She was always, even before becoming a commissioner, involved in so many things going on in her community,” he said
Throughout the years, Wells served on numerous civic, business, health and educational boards and committees, including several appointments to committees made by sitting governors.
In addition to many other boards, Wells served on the Nash County Democratic Executive Committee since 1990 and served two terms as chairwoman of the board of the Upper Coastal Plains Council of Governments. She was a lifetime member of the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the Nash Community College Board of Trustees at the time of her death.
Wells also was a member of Dortches Baptist Church where she served as a deacon, church clerk and Sunday School teacher.
Davis said that serving the youth of the community was her special passion in her role as county commissioner.
“While on the Nash County Board of Commissioners, her two main concerns were always our schools and the children, number one, and our Recreation Department for Nash County, which also involved the children,” Davis said. “Our board will definitely miss Mrs. Wells, but Nash County’s residents will also miss her.”
At a special called meeting of the Nash County Board of Education on Monday to discuss personnel and other issues, school board Chairman Franklin Lamm asked for a moment of silence in memory of Wells.
“She will be missed,” he said. “She was always a great friend to this board.”
Funeral arrangements for Wells have not yet been announced.