James Thomas Wells, Poland, Ohio

Becker Funeral Homes

January 22, 2021

James Thomas Wells, Poland, Ohio - obit
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POLAND, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – James “Jim” Thomas Wells of Poland, Ohio, passed away at his home on Friday, January 22, 2021. 

Jim was born the youngest of five children in Youngstown, Ohio on March 12, 1948.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Harold and Marie (Kinney) Wells; brother, Harold and sisters, Ruth and Rita.

He is survived by his bride of 48 years, Valerie (Kraynak) Wells; sister, Kathleen (George) Pallai; daughters, Amanda (Brian) Wells and Katherine (Jack) Rosson and granddaughters, Emma and Grace Rosson.

He will be remembered as a patriot, a veteran, a loving husband, a cherished sibling, a saint of a father and a co-conspirator as a grandfather.

Jim grew up on the south side of Youngstown where he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1966.

He fondly remembered his glory days on the football squad but readily acknowledged that his real journey began in 1967 when he enlisted in the United States Air Force. His aim was to go to Vietnam and contribute to the war effort. Upon graduation from Basic Military Training and his technical training, Jim found himself stepping off an airplane at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, where he served as a Photo Interpretation Specialist for the 548th Reconnaissance Technical Group until the end of his enlistment in 1972.

While his time in Hawaii was full of meaningful work and plenty of “war stories” with his fellow Airmen, the time period in which he served was most notably defined by the 30 days of leave he spent in Youngstown in 1971, where he met Valerie at a mutual friend’s wedding. After spending every remaining day of his leave with her, he boarded the plane and flew back to the islands. A few months later, he called Valerie and asked for her hand in marriage. Valerie and Jim wed in 1972 upon his return from service. 

He began his career at the Mahoning County Engineers Office while continuing his studies at Youngstown State University, graduating in 1978. He began work in 1980 at Eastgate Regional Council of Governments as the Environmental Program Manager, then moved to the position of Director of Transportation, before retiring as the Director of Public Works Program in 2008. 

Jim and Valerie used this time to build a life they loved together. YSU football was a family tradition in the autumn, braving the elements to sit in the stands and root for the Penguins. Coaching softball and soccer for both Amanda and Kate became a cherished pastime, spending any spare moments sneaking out to the backyard to play catch. As his daughters grew up, they moved out of Jim’s home but not out of his life. Jim and Val kept busy traveling to visit their children and grandchildren. They saw skyscrapers in New York City; the northern lights in Alaska on the night of their first granddaughter’s birth; an “authentic” German Oktoberfest in Hermann, Missouri; the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia, walked a portion of the Appalachian Trail at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia and toured each military service’s war memorial in Washington D.C. Jim’s life was defined by the love he had for his family and the time he spent with them.

Jim’s family will receive friends Thursday, January 28, 2021, at the Cunningham-Becker Funeral Home in Poland from 9:00 a.m. until the time of the Prayer Service at 10:30 a.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish at St. Matthias Church in Youngstown with Fr. John Jerek officiating. 

Interment will follow at the Riverside Cemetery in Poland.  

Donations can be sent to Our Lady of Sorrows Building Fund, 915 Cornell Avenue., Youngstown, OH 44502. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James “Jim” Thomas Wells, please visit our floral store.

A television tribute will air Wednesday, January 27 at the following approximate times: 5:17 a.m. on WKBN, 8:39 a.m. on FOX, 5:21 p.m. on WYTV and 6:35 p.m. on MyYTV.

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