Michael John Wells
Fortuna, Calif.
July 21, 1948-May 6, 2023

[NOTE: The celebration of life has been changed to the Fortuna Nazarene Church on Sat. June 24, 2022 @ 2 p.m.]

Michael John Wells was 74 years young when he was safely delivered into his heavenly inheritance and presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Mike reluctantly left the Queen of his Heart and wife of 25 years, Cheryl Wells at the home of his eldest son, Adam Wells, in Scottsdale, Ariz., with Cheryl, Adam and other family at his side.

Mike and Cheryl’s love affair of 27 years brought joy to others and was a wonderful example of how to love and be loved. Mike was a strong, tender, fun-loving and committed father to Adam Wells, Scottsdale, Ariz. and Brian (Stacy) Wells, Vienna, Austria and stepfather to Abe Fockaert, (Hydesville), Candice Martella (Fortuna), Hannah Bruckner, (Fortuna), Matthew Fockaert, Maggie Wells (Fortuna). Mike also was a safe and compassionate foster dad and foreign exchange student dad to many over the years. Papa was a hero, an amazing role model, and doting grandfather to 11 grandchildren ranging in the ages from 22 years old to 1 ½ years old, always pulling each close to himself and saying to each “Your ol’ Papa loves you!” To his granddaughters he would dance them around the room and add, “Your ol’ papa loves you… MY DARLIN’.” His well-loved grandchildren are, Braden and Cody Wells, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Luke and Stella Wells, Vienna, Austria; Sophia Bruckner, Chico; Jadon Bruckner, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Tobiah, Boaz, and Raanan Bruckner, Fortuna; Avery and Jayce Fockaert, Hydesville. Mike loved attending his children’s and grandchildren’s many social, educational, sports events, and performances over the years and was an active participant in cheering his family onto success and accomplishment. Mike also leaves behind his ex-wife, Kathy Philp (Ariz.) and the devoted extended family through Cheryl including his 92 year old father-in-law, Bob (Ilene) Cannon, Fortuna; and sister-in-laws (and their families), Linda (Jeff) Moot, Fortuna; Susan (Chuck) Schouw, Ariz.; Tina Cannon (Ariz.) with nieces and nephews; Kara (Sean) Deno (their 6 children) Eureka; Heather (Sean) Garcia (their 4 boys) Colo.; Chris (Ashley) Namanny, (Lorelei), Eureka; Maren (Brian) Fuller Texas, Jason (Vicki) Schouw; Kris (Nichole) Schouw (4 children) Ariz.; Melissa LaVeck (7 children) Kentucky, Bobby (Sarah) Davis (2 children) Colo.; Kim (Darren) Jacobs (3 children) Ariz.; LeAnne Moot, Eureka; Casey (Steele) Fredricksen (Ember) Wash.

Mike died after an 11-month battle with a very rare and aggressive leukemia called TPLL. He and Cheryl immediately left Fortuna to Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. on May 28, 2022 just 4 days after his initial diagnosis by his longtime physician and friend, Beth Ables, on her urgent recommendation to “get out of town!” Those 11 months were spent in and out of hospital treatments in Arizona and at the MD Anderson Cancer Treatment Center in Houston, Texas. Throughout this journey, Mike and Cheryl were carried with strength, courage, confidence, purpose, hope, peace and joy based in their faith in Jesus Christ their Savior, and the comfort of the scriptures in the race they were running that was “marked out for them.” (Hebrews 12) They were strengthened by many Bible verses and especially Romans 15:13:

“May the God of Hope fill you with ALL JOY And PEACE as you trust in HIM so that you will overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

A grateful thank you to Adam and the boys for life with them and in the Casita for 11 months, and for sister’s Sue (Chuck) and Tina who also supplied a beautiful room just 15 min down the road along with love, attention and provision. Fortuna family was very missed, but very precious time with the Ariz. family. Cheryl’s 92 year old dad, Bob Cannon left Fortuna to Ariz. to be near the cancer battle and be of a support from Dec. 2022 and was present also when Mike took his last breath as was Cheryl’s sister Linda Moot from Fortuna at Mike’s side after she remained in Ariz. for the” last touch and go” 9 weeks. The great cloud of family, old and new friends, continued prayer and support, close contact and love gifts, including visiting from afar while displaced from Fortuna home made a very challenging year into a very blessed and special year. Special thanks to close friends who visited them in Scottsdale, Kim and Leah Price, Pastor Mark Seitz who also spent 6 days there, as well as family members who immediately responded and came when Mike was given 1 week to live. Thank you to new friends at Scottsdale Bible Church who quickly brought Mike and Cheryl into their hearts with amazing support at the beginning of this battle when Mike and Cheryl arrived in June 2022. Thank you to their Oncologist, Dr. Nathan Punwani, and all staff at Mayo clinic from amazing nurses to the cleaning staff who always made their stay in the hospital a wonderful experience. Mike and Cheryl knew that this cancer belonged not only to them but also had purpose in the lives of all of those who walked alongside them and even to all the acquaintances, friends and hospital staff they met along the way.

Mike was born on July 21, 1948 to Gerald and Alice Wells in Inglewood, Calif. whose deaths have preceded his. He was 5th born and relished his memories of being “raised by his two teenage sisters, Judy and Carolyn and their friends, and boyfriends with cars!” He loved it when his 18 yr old brother David would come home and tickle him and later gave Mike his love for social dancing. Mike’s older siblings and spouses preceding his death were Jean (Ken Kleinwachter) , David Olive, and Carolyn (Tom) Reiner. His beloved sister Judy and her high school sweetheart, and husband, Loy Coffey live in Indio, Calif. and have been very dear and close to Mike’s heart for his entire life. Adult nieces and nephews, with their children include, Paul (Pam) Kleinwachter, Wash.; John Kleinwachter, Colo., Susan (Tom) Meason, (2 boys) Colo. ; Lori (Rick) Maloney, (3 children) Calif.; Kathy (John) Vaskey (2 kids), Calif.; Lil Meyers, Ariz.; Cindy Rudd, (2 daughters) Calif.; Mark Rudd, (2 sons) Maui ; Debbie (Don) Priestly, (2 children) Calif.; Kim (Jr.) Florida, Nebraska; Jeff Coffey, Idaho, Ken (Tammy) Coffey, (2 children) , ID; Paula (Mike) Morse, (2 children) Oregon.

Mike graduated from Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, Calif. in 1967 where he had 4 years of educational and football success. He went on and completed his college education on a Football Scholarship at San Jose University, Calif.. Mike played as an offensive lineman and defensive end both in High School and College. He received All American status while at San Jose State University. Mike went on to earn his Master’s degree at San Francisco State University. Mike was a patrol officer with San Jose Police Dept when he was drafted into the military during the Vietnam conflict. Fortunately, at that time he also was recruited into the Army National Guard Reserves where he spent 6 years as a reserve officer and was able to continue to work for San Jose Police Department. Mike had continued a life long, special relationship with his partner on patrol with him, Phi (and Shelley) Rodgers. Shelley had overcome four life threatening cancer diagnoses and battles which helped inspire Mike and Cheryl with their “kick butt” attitude in how they approached their unintended journey. Cheryl was wholeheartedly grafted into this relationship and together through the years they shared policing, and national guard experiences and stories, water skiing and house boating experiences, along with many life adventures together. They always endearingly called him “Mikey.” In 1973 while in San Jose Mike met and married Kathy Iverson. In 1979, already working in the Police Training Unit with San Jose PD, Mike accepted a position at the College of the Redwoods Police Academy and Mike and Kathy moved to Eureka, Calif. where they continued to raise their two sons, Adam and Brian. During that same time Cheryl and her husband were raising their children in Eureka also. Adam, Brian, and Cheryl’s kids, Abe and Hannah went to the same schools and were also friends. After their unfortunate marital breakups, unbeknownst to them, Mike and Cheryl ran into each other and began to date for 2 years until they were married on November 21, 1997. Mike and Cheryl had known one another through the friendship of their kids so there was a familiarity with one another’s families and an understanding of each other’s core values. It was immediate electricity and attraction that they cherished throughout the life they built together.

They married in an intimate and special ceremony in the home of Dick and Jean Adams with their best friends, Dennis and Laurie McCollister standing up for them, with a circle of family and close friends and Cursillistas also celebrating that moment with them. Dick wrote a silly poem and read it at their wedding called “The Long and Short of It” which described their funny phenomenon … Mike was 6’4 and Cheryl 5’2 (and yet it worked, and on top of it working they were also a great dance couple!)

“This evening we share in their joy and love,
And pray for God’s blessings to flow from above.
Cheryl and Mike believe it’s all Heaven sent,
But here’s the true story of just how it went.
He bowed low to see the love in her eyes,
She stood “tippy toe’ because of his size.
He caught her up-face to face,
First a kiss then- fond embrace.
It was then they both came to realize,
There was nothing wrong about their difference in size.
He loved her-she loved him,
They knew this was more than just a whim.
So here at the wedding, we all wish them well.
And that ends the story I have to tell.
Obviously, this poem is a silly bit-
So it’s simply called- The Long and short of it.”

And so began 25 ½ married years together with Mike and his “Sweetie Petunia.” Mike continued with his career as Coordinator and Director of the Police Academy, and Professor of Administration of Justice courses. He was personally invested in his police academy cadets and his students, and would often take personal time to help correct their personal deficiencies in order to assist them to qualify to the next round of course. He loved teaching AJ courses and wove many of his personal experiences and funny stories into his lectures. Many would continue to greet him respectfully as Mr. Wells, 20 years into their own law enforcement career which always brought him joy and a feeling of accomplishment to help others move forward with their dreams and desired professions.

In 1997, Mike and Cheryl’s four adult children were now in college, and were beginning successful lives of their own. They settled into raising their two adopted children, Matthew and Maggie together; foster parenting together, working with developmentally challenged student populations as vendors with Redwood Coast Regional Center. They also had the pleasure of hosting foreign exchange students through Rotary International. In 2005 Mike and Cheryl had the opportunity to move from Eureka, purchase property in Fortuna, Calif. and renovate the home of their dreams through their own hard “grunt” labor, and the professional work of Cheryl’s son, Abe and his crew of AF Builders.. It was hard to leave their Eureka church and friend base that had been developed and cherished for over 36 years. But once “Ya, Ya”, Friends…always “Ya Ya” friends. In Fortuna Mike and Cheryl have spent the last 18 wonderful years of their life together, always eager to open their home, for social gatherings, small group bible studies and celebrations. “2nd Sunday” family gatherings brought joy and connection with their growing number of local relatives and oh…the children! Cheryl hopes the hospitality of the Wells will continue with the unseen presence of the man so adored, respected and loved so much.

Mike retired from College of the Redwoods after 33 years in 2012. Mike ended his career serving in various Vice President positions at CR. After a couple years of retirement and as his “honey do list” continued to expand while Cheryl continued to work, Mike “escaped, ” taking a position with Fortuna Parks and Recreation. He loved mowing lawns in his beloved city parks. Older, retired guys like him who were walking in the park would stop him as he was mowing and ask him “Hey, how did you get that job?” Mike also loved driving the Fortuna Transit Bus for seniors and those with disabilities. He cherished his riders, treated each with dignity and respect and loved the conversations, stories and occasional hymns shared. He would say his bus was “The Jesus Bus.” Just what he wanted, a fun hobby helping others, where he didn’t need to be in charge, or knock out growing chores at home. Mike retired from Fortuna City after Cheryl retired in 2020 after 5 years of service with the City of Fortuna. Now Mike and Cheryl could travel, dance more, increase their participation with their children, grandchildren and friends, enjoy their houseboat on Trinity Lake, serve their church and community, and tackle those “honey do lists” together.

Mike loved his life and the lessons he learned from his childhood, parenthood, football, the army, sports, policing, teaching, surfing, water skiing, running, dancing, river rafting, houseboating, cycling, landscaping, caring for his home, loving and investing into the lives of his family, friends, students, church and community, along with his rolls as a son-in-law, brother, uncle, husband, father, grandfather, and friend.

Mike served on various boards, commissions, and service clubs throughout life (the list is too long to cite) . Whether he was coaching his older sons in youth football in Eureka, grandson’s with Eel River Valley Youth Football, or sitting in the stands cheering on the youth, Mike alwayssaid, as was his example with the youth and adults he mentored, “that all things were possible with hard work, determination, perseverance and Faith.” Mike and Cheryl loved serving on Humboldt Redwood Cursillo Team weekends communicating expressions of Hope, Faith and Love to candidates in attendance. In later years Mike was President of Fortuna Sunrise Rotary, served on the Fortuna Planning Commission, Fortuna Nazarene Church Board, and on the Humboldt County Republican Central Committee, District 2 Co-chair. He was preparing to run for Fortuna City Council when he received his cancer diagnosis in May 2022 which halted his desire to serve the people of Fortuna, and required him to leave the area for cancer treatment. It is with great sadness that Mike’s time on this earth and his opportunity to continue to invest into our lives has ended. We know that his knowledge, wisdom, wit, humor, love, and example of what it looks like to be a good human being will live on in our hearts. In his last act of service to others Mike donated his body, (“as long as they take me with my “Hey Dude” shoes on!) to the United Tissue Network in hope that he might help advance medical technology, training and education. We know Mike danced his way into heaven, New Orleans Style, as he continued to dance around with his wife and say “I feel great”, even on the day of his death, and whenever good music was played.

Please join us for a Celebration of Mike’s Life on June 24, 2023 at The Fortuna Nazarene Church @ 1355 Ross Hill Road, Fortuna, CA for a program of music, sharing, remembrance and refreshments. If you have any questions please call or text Linda @ 707 407 7152.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Michael Wells’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email news@lostcoastoutpost.com.