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Roger Matthew Wells

March 12, 1960 ~ July 22, 2018 (age 58)

Roger Matthew Wells, (58), reached the end of his story on July 22, 2018.

            The narrative of Roger’s life is one filled with twenty-two years of service in the United States Army and thirteen years teaching English and Band at Fishburne Military School. During those terms of service to America and her children, Roger raised and loved a family that reveled in their adoration for each other. To be in the Wells’ home was to be in the aura of a love so palpable that you couldn’t leave without feeling loved yourself – such was the theme of Roger’s life.

            The characters fortunate to be written into The Book of Roger Wells, encountered a man who celebrated life and its gifts of art, music, and literature. Many chapters of Roger’s story could be titled “Hemingway and the Frost of Mount Eventide” or “Charlie Parker – Beat! Beat! Drums!” Each chapter details the exploits of a man who loved jazz, poetry, and a stiff glass of Aberlour. But most importantly, the pages of his story centered on enjoying those gifts from God with the people he loved.

             The two chapters of Roger’s life I was personally able to read were “Fishburne: A Family” and “On Love.” In “Fishburne: A Family,” as a student and later as a colleague, I watched Roger teach Fishburne cadets how to not just play music, but to feel it from their fingertips all the way down to the resonating blast of their brass instruments. If you were reading carefully, you could see Roger at times smiling at the newfound confidence his drummers had as they rapped metronomically in unison on their snare drums. Roger was always listening to the homesick cadet or the cadet who couldn’t find his way through Fishburne’s halls, let alone their own adolescent life, as if the boy was tuning a saxophone and Roger was guiding the melody with a nod and a grin. Roger taught by listening, and his students learned by watching him speak with genuine passion and curiosity, which invaded the minds and thoughts of all those boys, now men. Those men can now walk tall between the hardback covers of their own lives, emulating those same principles that Roger instilled in them.

             In “On Love,” I read of how deeply Roger loved his sons and grandsons. Roger couldn’t help himself; he had to tell you about his progeny. It wasn’t because of pride or arbitrary small talk, but because they were a continuation of his love for his family – to see them do well gave him great happiness and purpose. Roger couldn’t stop talking about the love he had for his sons and their children, and personally, I couldn’t stop listening.

             The love Roger shared with his wife was an intense love – if you read close, you would notice that she looked at Roger as if she was falling in love with him for the first time all over again. Roger would always return her gaze and at that moment, they were no longer in the room with you. You and the room you sat in became thousands of miles away, and I assume in those moments, Roger and Dee were on the shore of some beach – the author was never specific – and suffice it to say, their love for each other transcended words. It’s what held their marriage together and it’s what made them so wonderful to be around.

               I once wrote that Roger was not one for the mawkish or sentimental, and I believe that to be true. I cannot do him the disservice of being overly maudlin or morose, though I miss him and his witticisms. His words and example will always be with me and the many people written into his life. You cannot mourn someone like Roger; you must celebrate them because God, the author and umpire of Roger’s life, wrote a tale of triumph and exuberant joy that was intended to give those people lucky enough to experience a moment with Roger, memories that they could dog-ear for a fond read later in their own life story. If Roger taught me anything, it was to live life with passion, love, and kindness. Whether your tale is in the form of a short story, a novella, or a tome, those who happen to pore through its pages will take joy in the solace that is brings them.

-Martin Goodnough

 

Roger was born March 12, 1960 in Fulton, NY, to Florence and Roger I. Wells. He was preceded in death by his mother, Florence, and niece, Celeste Marie Wells. He is survived by his wife Denise, his sons Jonathan and Zachary Wells; grandsons Bentley Cash and Noah Wells, his father Roger I. Wells; his brothers Joel and Jody Wells; his sister Valarie Turner, and four nieces and two nephews.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 4, 2018 at 1:00 pm in the chapel of Fishburne Military School, 255 S. Wayne Ave., Waynesboro, VA 22980.

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