Francis E. “Fran” Wells, 83, of Big Horn, WY died Tuesday, April 24, 2012 in Memorial Hospital of Sheridan County.
Fran was born June 12, 1928, in Sheridan, WY the fifth son and sixth child of David E. and Florence E. (Fasbender) Wells. The following year the family moved to the Sundance, WY area where Fran grew up on the family farm. He attended Oak Creek (one room) grade school and graduated from Sundance High School in 1946. After graduation, Fran worked on ranches, drove fuel delivery truck and then bought a truck and did contract hauling. In May, 1948, he drove to Grandfield, OK where he had made arrangements to meet a custom combine crew. He followed the grain harvest north to Devils Tower after “celebrating” his 20th birthday shoveling wheat in Kansas.
Fran was inducted into the Army in December, 1950 and received basic training at Fort Ord, CA. He attended the Ordinance School for track vehicle repair at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. He spent several months at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver, CO as the result of an accident. He finished his tour of duty at Fort Richardson, Alaska. After separation from service at Fort Lewis, WA, Fran worked for the U.S. Postal Service, trained as a telegraph operator and worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad out of Oakland, CA. Fran later returned to Seattle, WA where he married R’Lee Bergine and they raised four daughters. The later divorced. Fran the worked in the truck and trailer parts business until returning to Sheridan in 1981. He then drove truck for Mullinax Concrete for twenty years. After “retiring” he worked at the Kalif Shrine as bartender and Bar Manager until 2009 when he finally retired for good.
Fran married Mary Ogg of Sheridan in 1990 and they moved to Big Horn, WY in 1996.
Fran was a Past Commander of University Post 11, American Legion in Seattle in 1964. He later transferred to Post #7 in Sheridan. He was Past Master of Big Horn Mountain Lodge #43 of Ancient Free and Accepted Mason of Wyoming. He was awarded Mason of the Year (2008-09) by Phillip Huckins WM. He was Past Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge; past High Priest of Sheridan chapter #7 of Royal Arch Masons; past Illustrious Master of Sheridan Council #3 of Royal and Select Masters of Cryptic Masons and past Commander of De Molay Commandery #6, all of Wyoming. He was awarded Cryptic Mason of the Year in 1997; the Grand Templar Cross of Honor by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the U.S. in 2004. Fran was a past Governor of Equality York Rite College #92 and awarded the order of the Purple Cross in Grand Rapids, MI in 1998 by the York Rite Sovereign College of N. America and is an Assoc. Regent of the body. He was a past Pouissant Sovereign of the Red Cross of Constantine and past President of the Order of High Priesthood; past Illustrious Master of the degree of Past Illustrious Masters and past Prior of Knights of the York Cross of Honor. He was a member of HRAKTP; Order of Knights Preceptor Wyoming Chapter; life member of Bannack Historic Lodge #3-7-77 located at Bannack State Park in Montana. Fran was an honorary member of the Grand Commandery of Oregon and an Endowment Life Member of the NRA. He was a member of the Kalif Shrine and past President of the Directors Staff; Sheridan Elks Lodge #520 where he was Loyal Knight and served as Chairman of the Funeral Service Committee.
Fran enjoyed his lodge work, camping, hunting and the mountains but especially loved his family and friends.
Fran was preceded in death by his parents and four brothers David, Edwin, Forrest, and Donald.
Survivors include his wife Mary of Big Horn; four daughters Connie Castro of Lynnwood, WA, Leona (Bob) Ulberg of Tigard, Oregon, Toni Powell of Bothel, WA and Cynthia (Robert) Hendsch; sister Vera Montgomery; step daughter Cindie (Ken) Brasen; step sons Kevin (Carol) Tymchuck and Curt (Cathy) Tymchuck all of Sheridan. He also leaves behind many grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Memorials may benefit the Kalif Shrine Children’s Travel Fund, Box K, Sheridan or the Donor’s choice.
Funeral service will be 10:00am on Monday (April 30th) from Champion Ferries Funeral Home with Father Lewis Shepherd officiating. Interment will be in Sheridan Municipal Cemetery, Masonic #43 Section with Masonic Rites. Military rites are by the American Legion and the Wyoming National Guard. Arrangements are with Champion Ferries Funeral Home.