Jack Moore Wells was born in a log cabin in Neihart, Montana, on September 13, 1937. He moved to Renton, WA with his parents for a time, but after WWII, relocated to Great Falls, MT. Jack grew up an avid hunter and fly fisherman, frequently heading out in his Model-A on weekends to fish the Smith River with his best friend, Loren Gibbons. He played football for Great Falls High School and spent summers cutting wheat and hay for nearby ranchers. A compound leg fracture ended his H.S. football days, so after graduation Jack headed east to the Ivy League for college, attending Dartmouth University on an academic scholarship. While there, he enrolled in the Air Force ROTC program. The need for glasses prevented Jack from becoming an Air Force pilot, but he earned his private pilot’s license and his instrument rating on his own.
After graduating with a master's degree in Electrical Engineering, Jack was commissioned in the Air Force as a second lieutenant. Over the course of a 30-year career, Jack enjoyed a variety of exciting assignments. He worked in cryptology, installing the hot line to the Kremlin in the White House during the Kennedy Presidency. He spent the Vietnam War launching spy satellites in the Atlas Agena program at Cape Canaveral, FL. He eventually returned west to work in the Minuteman and Peacekeeper nuclear missile programs and was stationed at F. E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne, WY, Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, MT, and Norton AFB in San Bernardino, CA. He then served three years as the Air Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He finished his career as a commander of the Site Alteration Task Force at Warren AFB, retiring as a full colonel.
After retiring, Jack and his wife, Mary Gay, settled in Bozeman, MT, moving later to Sheridan, WY for the summers and spending winters in Green Valley, AZ. Jack didn't slow down in retirement. Instead, he became a voice for conservatism, serving two terms as a Montana State Legislator and another as a State Senator. He rounded out his time with golfing, camping, hunting, fishing, and traveling. Jack will be remembered for playing his guitar, telling jokes, and sharing stories. If you knew Jack, you knew he was a talker. He and Mary Gay never missed an event for the grandchildren, traveling to catch graduations, weddings, and reunions, and jetted around the world to visit family and friends they had made over the years.
In his later years he grew deeper in his Christian faith and became active in the men's groups and the choir at his church. He was an active Gideon and enjoyed meeting people and passing out free Bibles. On March 16, 2021, Jack went home to be with Jesus and is now at peace. He passed away at home surrounded by family after complications following hip replacement surgery and will be laid to rest in Bozeman.
Jack is survived by his wife of 44 years, Mary Gay (Taylor); four sons from his first marriage to Sally (Bennett), Kenneth, Kevin, Brian, and Mark; four step-children, Elise, Tom, Steve, and Tara; twenty grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence “Slim” Wells and Vivian “Vi” (Simons) Wells; step-mother, Agnes; half-brother, Pat Murphy; half-sister, Dorothy Nebel; half-sister, Mickey McMillan; and sister, Jenny Lee Ferda.
A Memorial Service will be held at 1:00 P.M. on Saturday, May 29 at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, followed by interment with Military Honors at Sunset Hills Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in his memory be made to Gideons International.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com [dokkennelson.com]