Ann Reaves Fennegan Wells, 94, passed away peacefully in the home of her daughter where she had lived for her care since 2001. Her funeral service and celebration of life will be held Saturday, February 16 at 11 a.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Madison. A lunch reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations for her beloved university where she spent the majority of her career teaching and from which she retired as Professor Emeritus. Donation information is below.
Ann was a native to Robeson County in North Carolina. She was raised in Fairmont, lived most of her life in Lumberton, and taught in Proctorville, Orrum, Lumberton, and Pembroke, first at the high school level and then in higher education. She was primarily an English professor, teaching composition, literature, and training and supervising student teachers in that field. She taught French and Spanish at points in her career and spoke seven languages. Long before is now poplar status as the English as a Second Language movement, Ann was interested in teaching English to non-native speakers. She did research in different alphabet and language systems and travelled the world to do so (examples: Urdu in Pakistan and Cyrillic in Russia). She travelled to every continent, including Antarctica. Her love of language, culture, and people excited her and helped inform her students and her teachers in training.
In addition to teaching and training, Ann was an academic leader and visionary. At Pembroke, she was to hold most of the positions on the faculty senate, culminating in her as presiding president. During her term, she advocated for the physical growth of the campus and its inclusion in the University of North Carolina system. She started teaching at Pembroke College in 1959, saw it become a university, and heralded it into its position as the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP). Her own department expanded during her time there, growing to become the Communicative Arts Department. Ann was vocal about the importance of quality education for all and the necessity of literacy. She encouraged multiple generations of people in her illustrious 53 years of being an educator.
In addition to her role as teacher, Ann valued her own learning. She graduated from Coker College in Hartsfield, South Carolina and received a double major and double Masters (English and French) by the age of 19. She was able to skip some grades and do extra studies, working overtime on schoolwork and jobs to get through quickly during the time of WWII. Ann was valedictorian of her class. She also attended Tulane University in New Orleans, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Sorbonne in Paris, France during her lifetime of learning.
Her family, church, and community were also important to Ann. She was a devoted wife for 47 years, until widowed, and a devoted mother throughout. She loved her home church, the First Baptist Church on Walnut Street in Lumberton and taught Sunday School for many years. She helped with the Girls Auxiliary (Gas) and the Girl Scouts. She volunteered at the local library by helping in book drives. She was a member of the Daughters of the Revolution (DAR), the Daughters of the Barons Runnemede, and an honorary member of the Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity for her support of the arts and her patronage of the college performance series. She tirelessly supported her daughter in ballet, being at every class, rehearsal, and performance.
Ann was pre-deceased by her parents, Ethel Reaves Fennegan and Samuel Edgar Fennegan of Fairmont, her brother Edgar, a fighter pilot in the military, and her adored husband, Edward (“Ed”) Brantley Wells.
She is survived by her daughter, Patricia (“Pat”) Wren Wells, her sister Faith Fennegan Allen and brother-in-law Retired Marine Colonel Francis Raymond (“Ray”) Allen, her brother Dr. Michael (“Mike”) Fennegan and sister-in-law Nancy Fennegan, as well as many nieces, nephews, and their children on both the Fennegan and Wells sides of the family. Ann is remembered as smart, strong, determined, creative, and ahead of her time. She will be buried next to her husband in Lumberton.
Donations can be mailed to: UNCP – Advancement, 1 University Drive, Pembroke, NC 28372. In the memo line, please write “in memory of Professor Emeritus Ann Wells” and designate the gift for the Dept. of English, Theatre, and Foreign Languages. If you prefer to give online, you can go to https://braveweb.uncp.edu/opay/give/ and choose “other” in the “area to apply gift” and specify as above for Ann’s memory and to her department. Thank you for helping her legacy live on…