‘A very, very tough lady’: Wells remembered for civic contributions | The Enterprise
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‘A very, very tough lady’: Wells remembered for civic contributions

Posted on July 20, 2021

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Longtime Nash County Commissioner Mary Phillips Wells of Rocky Mount died Sunday evening at Nash General Hospital, county officials announced Monday in an email to staff.

The 84-year-old Wells, who had been in declining health for months, attended the county board’s July regular meeting on July 12 but was admitted to the hospital on Thursday, county board Chairman Robbie Davis said. Her illness and cause of death were not disclosed.

“Mary had been in declining health but was pretty sharp on Monday,” he said. “She went back into the hospital on Thursday. Certainly it came to a surprise to the board last night that she passed away as quick as she did.”

Wells, a Democrat serving District 6, was first appointed to the board in 2009 to fill the unexpired term of resigning chairman Claude Mayo Jr. She went on to win her own four-year terms in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Over the last year, Wells had given up some of her committee assignments because of ill health, Davis said, but continued to serve on the park committee. He said her main “focal points” were the county school system and the county’s recreational programs.

“She did get to see the Miracle Park at Coopers being finished and was at the ribbon-cutting a month ago,” he said. “I’m glad that happened.”

The Nash County Democratic Party will submit nominees to fill the remaining 16 months of her term, Davis said, and the Board of Commissioners will appoint her replacement.

“Mrs. Wells is going to be sorely missed on our board. She was a very, very tough lady,” Davis said. “She stayed on the board longer than most people in declining health would stay on, but she enjoyed being on the board. To me, I don’t know of a more community oriented person than Mary Wells. She certainly enjoyed what she did on our board. She served Nash County very well while she was on there and helped Nash County get a whole lot done.”

In his email announcement, County Manager Zee Lamb wrote, “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.”

A native of Wilson County, Wells graduated from Charles L. Coon High School before attending Nash Community College and N.C. State University. She was an active member of Dortches Baptist Church.

Wells was active in the state as well as county Democratic Party, serving for two years as chair of the county party. She was a member of the state party’s executive committee. She ran once for Congress and twice for the state House of Representatives, all unsuccessfully, but she found her niche in county and civic activities as well as within the business community.

She was owner of One Hour Koretizing Cleaners and Laundry in Rocky Mount from 1981 until she retired. She won the Rocky Mount Small Business of the Year award in 1990, Downtown Merchant of the Year in 2006 and NFIB Small Business Person of the Year in 2008, the latter honor bestowed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

She was a member of the Nash Community College Board of Trustees, was a board leader on the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, was active in the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce and served on a long list of other local and state civic, business, educational and cultural groups.

Pending funeral arrangements are being handled by Wheeler & Woodlief Funeral Home in Rocky Mount.

She is survived by her husband, Talmadge, and four children: James, Royce, Tammy and David.

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