WASHINGTON AND HOLMES COUNTIES – Both counties are mourning the loss of beloved resident Hester Lee Lucas Wells. She passed away Friday, July 13, at the Washington Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

A Holmes County native, Wells, 89, was the wife of Judge Perry Wells (Ret.). She will be remembered by most for her constant and active civic engagement.

Funeral Services will be today at 11 a.m. at Shiloh Baptist Church, with Eric Smith officiating. Visitation starts at 9 a.m. Interment will follow at Bethany Baptist Church cemetery in Holmes County where three generations of Hester’s ancestors are buried. In lieu of flowers please make donations to the Bethany Baptist cemetery fund.

Obert Funeral Home of Chipley, Florida is directing.

Hester was an accomplished seamstress and cook, and throughout her life enjoyed attending bluegrass events and gospel sings. Since 1976, the Wells were actively involved in the Panhandle Watermelon Festival - where one would easily find Hester in her iconic watermelon seed sack dress.

In the 30 years that Judge Wells was chairman of the festival, Hester played an integral role as well. Current Chairman the Hon. Judge Colby Peel said the loss of Mrs. Hester is deeply felt because of all she has done for the festival over the years.

"No family has meant more or done more for the Panhandle Watermelon Festival than the Wells family, and Mrs. Hester will be greatly missed by all who knew her," Peel said.

Wells attended Esto School through the ninth grade and then transferred to Holmes County High School where she graduated in 1945. She was a member of Mt. Zion Church near Esto, and was baptized in nearby Ten Mile Creek.

After marrying Perry on October 4, 1952 in Cottonwood, Alabama, the Wells bought their first home in Panama City. Over the years, the family's religious service would extend to Primitive Baptist churches in Panama City, and the Bethel community and Chipley Chapel in Washington County.

In 1970, the Wells family moved to Chipley to own and operate the Sears Catalog store - something of which Hester was an integral part. The couple later owned and operated a Montgomery Ward Catalog store. Wells later ran the historic T.L. Wells and Bro. department store as well as opened the Northwest Florida Music Park and Campground.

Hester and Perry had four boys, Tim, Grant, Emory and Gordon along with nine grandchildren one of whom preceded Hester in death.