Rollien R. (Ray) Wells


Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Former Juneau resident Rollien R. (Ray) Wells, 89, died Dec. 16, 2004, in Albany, Ore.

He was born in Pendleton, Ore., on Aug. 15, 1915, to James R. and Ora Pearl (Cole) Wells. He married his high school sweetheart, Cornelia Frances "Bill" Visser, on Jan. 1, 1938. They had two children, David and Virginia.

A 1936 graduate of the Montana School of Mines in metallurgical engineering, Wells' career spanned 42 years, primarily with the U.S. Bureau of Mines. He worked for the Anaconda Mining Co. and Utah Copper Mining Co., and joined the Bureau of Mines' Salt Lake City Laboratory in 1942 as an assistant metallurgist. He moved to the Oregon Laboratory in Albany, where he headed the ore dressing section from 1948 to 1950. Wells transferred to Juneau as station superintendent and director of metallurgy research of the bureau's Alaska station on Mayflower Island in Douglas. For a four-month period in 1957, he was the acting director of the bureau's Alaskan operations.

While in Juneau, Wells was active in choral groups, the Rotarians and the Boy Scouts. He was president of the Juneau Toastmasters and a deacon and elder of Northern Light Presbyterian Church.

Wells moved to Washington, D.C., in 1959 and served in a variety of increasingly responsible positions within the Bureau of Mines. These included deputy assistant director of research, chief of the Division of Metallurgy (manager of programs at seven research centers) and the bureau's assistant chief metallurgist. He also served as advisor to the Australian government and produced a report that resulted in the establishment of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization's Institute of Minerals. He wrote more than 60 published technical reports and numerous in-house reviews and advisory papers.

Wells concluded his career as the Bureau of Mines research director at the Albany Metallurgy Center in 1978. After retirement, he and his wife traveled in the United States and Canada, visiting Alaska several times. They also visited the South Pacific, Europe and South Africa.

Wells was listed among the top 100 flotation researchers in America and received a professional degree from the Montana School of Mines as a mineral dressing engineer. A longtime Boy Scout leader, he was a recipient of the Silver Beaver Award and received the Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow. He received numerous professional awards, including Superior Performance Awards and U.S. Department of Interior Awards for Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service.

Wells is survived by his wife of 66 years; son, David Wells, and daughter, Virginia Wells, of Toppemish, Wash.; grandchildren, Sean Wells of Renton, Wash.; Patrick Greeno of Portland, Ore., and Eric Greeno of Ellensburg, Wash.; three great-grandchildren, and one step-great-grandchild.

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