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Remembering Professor Larry Wells (1947-2021)

March 26, 2021

Dr. Wells was a UK professor in the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department from 1974-2012.

It is with deep regret that we announce the death of our colleague, Dr. Larry Wells, who passed away Sunday, March 7, 2021. Dr. Wells was a professor at the University of Kentucky in the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department from 1974-2012. After retiring in 2012, he continued active research work as an emeritus professor. Larry was also a member of the Kentucky National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves.

Larry was born July 28, 1947, in Falmouth, Ky., and grew up on a farm experiencing both the freedom and confinement of farm life. Long days of sometimes exhausting labor created a desire to develop machines to make things easier. This is where he developed a lifelong interest in agricultural mechanization.

He entered the University of Kentucky in 1965, majoring in Agricultural Engineering. He was also a member of the 1965-66 University of Kentucky freshman basketball team. Dr. Wells graduated with a bachelor's degree (with honors) in 1969 and a master's degree in 1971. He entered a Ph.D. program in biological and agricultural engineering at North Carolina State University. Upon earning his Ph.D. degree in 1974, Larry returned to UK as a faculty member.

He began his career in teaching and research associated with the design and development of agricultural machinery and made valuable contributions related to tobacco mechanization, mine reclamation, alleviating soil compaction and soil/machine interactions. Larry contributed to many departmental courses (especially in the machinery automation area), served on numerous departmental and college committees, directed the research of graduate students and actively participated in his professional organization, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineer (ASABE). In 1987, he was awarded the Sunkist Young Designer of the Year by ASABE. Throughout his career, Larry authored over fifty scholarly articles, was named on three U.S. patents, made numerous presentations of his work in the U.S. and abroad, served on numerous university committees and received over $3 million in research grants.

Larry married his college sweetheart, Estelle (Harper), in May 1971. They would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on May 17. He is survived by his wife, two sons, his mother, a sister and a large extended family. Larry was a devout Christian and was deeply devoted to his family. He was a member of Southland Christian Church in Lexington and served as chairman of Elders and the General Board in 1987.

Larry was a man of strong and unwavering faith, integrity and regard for others. He was held in high esteem by everyone who had the good fortune to know him. He was a humble leader in both his personal and professional life, tirelessly giving of his affection, wisdom and time with no expectation of acknowledgment or reward. He will be deeply missed by his many former students, colleagues and friends.

Visitation was held at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home in Lexington on Friday, March 12, from 12:00-2:00 pm, and was followed by a funeral service at 2:00 pm. Burial followed immediately at The Lexington Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation with a check written as follows:

To: University of Kentucky

Memo: Larry Wells scholarship

Please mail to the University of Kentucky, Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering Department, 128 Barnhart Building, Lexington, KY 40546. 

You can also give here. Earmark the donation "Larry Wells."