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George Washington WELLS
1912 - Death Takes George W. Wells - Head of Amercian Optical Company
Man of Wide Business and Social Interests.
End Comes at His Home in Southbridge.
SOUTHBRIDGE, Sept 30 - George W. Wells, president of the American Optical Company, died of neuritis at his home here today.
Mr Wells had been a sufferer from neuritis since February, 1911. The effots of physicians and specialists at Hot Springs, New York and Mt Clemens failed to give substantial relief, and this infliction, together with complications that later developed as a result, have been fatal.
As president of the American Optical Company and as a active officer and director in many Massachusetts banks and corporations, Mr Wells formed a very wide circle of business acquaintances.
George W Wells was born at Woodstock, Conn., April 15, 1846. He was descended from English stock, his ancestors on both sides having come from England less than a score of years after the landing of the Mayflower.
The boyhood days of Mr Wells were spent on the farm at the family homestead in Woodstock. Here also he attended the district schools and Woodstock Academy. His youth was largely spent in farm work, and when he was 15, his father being disabled, the responsibility of carrying on the farm landed wholly upon his shoulders for two seasons. At the age of 17 he started out for the first time to earn his own living. In the Winter of 1863-1864 he taught school for 12 weeks at Naversink Highlands, N. J. Returning home in the Spring of 1864, he offered his services to the Union but was rejected, having failed to qualify physically.
From early youth he had acquired a decided inclination for mechanical pursuits, which led to his seeking positions where he could obtain experience and develop his ability along those lines. On April 2, 1864, he went to Southbridge and entere the employ of Robert H Cole & Co as one of 11 employes in their optical shop. In this work he developed special fitness in machine designing, to which occupation he applied himself for the next few years. He was a close student of mechanics and investigated fully all matters pertaining to his particluar line of work.
In 1869 the American Optical Company was incorporated, with Mr Wells secretary of the corporation. He was elected treasurer in 1879 and president in 1891, holding both of these offices until 1908, when one of his sons was chosen treasurer.
Mr Wells always keeps in active touch with the tariff situation, and for a number of years was president of the Home Market Club.
While never aspiring to political office, Mr Wells took an active interest in affairs of his home town, his county and state. He became a member of the Baptist Church of Southbridge on May 1864, and has always been a supporter and leader in church affairs. In the work of the Young Men's Christian Association he acted on the State committee for 10 years and was president of the Southbridge Y.M.C.A. during the first 11 years of its existence.
He was a member of the local lodge of Masons, as well as the Worcester Commandery and Massachusetts Con?story.
On September 27, 1869, Mr Wells was married to Mary E McGregory of Southbridge. He leaves three sons, Channing M., ALbert B. and J. Cheney, and one daughter, Mary E., who married Frank F Phinney of Warren. He and his sons, together with his first cousin, Henry C. Cady, formed the board of directors of the American Optical Company.
Mr Wells' prominence in business is reflected by naming some of the important offices he has held:
President - American Optical Company, Harrington Cutlery Company, Central Mills Company, Southbridge National Bank, Southbridge, Mass; Home Market Club, Boston, Mass; Southbridge Club; Worcester South Agricultural Society.
Director - American Optical Compmay; Southbridge Water Supply Company; Southbridge National Bank; Harrington Cutlery Company; Central Mills Company, Southbridge, Mass; Warren Steam Pump Company; Worcester Trust Company; Worcester Manufacturers Mutual Insurance Company; Southbridge Gas & Electric Co; Nathional Shawmut Bank, Boston.
Member of investment committee of Southbridge Savings Bank.
Trustee - Worcester Academy, Worcester Insane Asylum, Southbridge Savings Bank.
Member- Squantum Club, Providence; ?asse River Outing Club, Adirondack Mountains; American Academy of Political and Social Science, Philadelphia; Worcester County Republican Club; Worcester Continentals (honorary); Optical Society, London, Quinagaug Historical Society.
The Boston Globe
Monday September 30, 1912
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