William 'Billy' Wells

Oct 03, 2013

CANTON/SOUTHPORT — William "Billy" Burder Wells, 83, a former resident of Canton and a resident of Southport, passed away at his home Thursday, March 14, 2013.

Billy was born June 10, 1929 in Haywood County to the late Burder J. Wells and the late Bonnie Murray Wells. He grew up in the Bethel Community and in the midst of the mountains that he loved deeply. Billy was an avid fisherman and hunter and was indeed known for his athletic prowess. He was a member of Long’s United Methodist Church and was a member of the 1947 graduating class of Bethel High School. He continued his education at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory and was named to the all-conference basketball team all four seasons with the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears and finished his career with 1,173 points. Billy was well known for his 25-point performance while playing basketball at Lenoir-Rhyne when his team defeated North Carolina 79-78 in a triple overtime Dec. 7, 1949.

After his college graduation Bill began his coaching career at St. Stephens High School where he spent five seasons. He was later honored by being named the head men’s basketball coach at Lenoir-Rhyne College. Bill guided the Lenoir-Rhyne team from 1957 to 1965 and compiled a 166-63 record and still holds the highest winning percentage (.752) in Lenoir-Rhyne men’s basketball history. Bill was a talented golfer and also served as the Lenoir-Rhyne golf coach. After stepping down as coach in 1965, Bill moved from Hickory to the North Carolina coast where he owned and operated a seafood restaurant where Bill formed many additional long-standing friendships.

Bill will be remembered as an iconic figure in Lenoir-Rhyne athletics history and was inducted into the Lenoir-Rhyne Sports Hall of Fame in 1981, the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 and later into the Western North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brothers, Jimmy, Ted and Ned Wells.

Surviving are his wife, Evelyn Carol Johnson Wells of Southport; sons, Dusty Wells and wife, Cissy of Texas, Randy Wells of Morganton, Michael Patrick McCabe of Wilmington and Daniel Timothy McCabe of Pennsylvania; daughters, Taffy Rice of Hickory, Shanna Roberson and husband, Thomas of Southport, Frances Hannah, Lori Busic and husband, Nick of West Virginia, Karen Stanley and husband, Stan of Texas and Patty McCabe of Oak Island; his sister, Bonnie Wells Moon and her husband, Art of Waynesville; 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The Wells family would like to extend an invitation to family and friends to honor and celebrate the life of Bill with a gathering and reception to be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6 at Crawford/Ray Funeral Home.

Crawford/Ray Funeral Home is honored to be caring for the Wells family and words of comfort may be shared at www.crawfordray.com.