302-478-7100 Wilmington & Hockessin, DE

William “Bill” Wells

William “Bill” Wells, of Dover, Delaware passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by family, on April 18, 2021. He was 88 years old. Beloved husband to Phyllis (nee Coccia) for 58 years. He is survived by his three children: David (Mary), James (Margot), and Tyler (Denise); eight grandchildren: Cassandra (Mathew), William, Marianna, Emma, Mason, Elise, Dalton, and Lexi; and one great-grandson: Tristan.

Bill Wells’ life was a testament to the idea that through perseverance, one can overcome tremendous obstacles, and attain a level of success and achievement that others might not deem possible. For Bill, success was defined as service to his family and to others. Born in Wilmington, Delaware, he courageously left a poor, broken and abusive home at the young age of 13 to live with his grandmother. After graduating from Wilmington High School, he enlisted in the United States Army and served admirably during the Korean War. After the war, he returned to Wilmington, employed as a foreman at Borden’s Ice Cream and attended night school at the University of Delaware.

He married the love of his life, Philomena (“Phyllis”), in 1962. She encouraged him to pursue a career in education, where he rose from elementary school teacher to elementary school principal (in Smyrna DE, and in Pennsylvania), and finally, to school district superintendent (Smyrna). In the course of almost 40 years in education, he touched the lives of thousands of students and teachers, inspiring all three of his sons to careers in public service. After retirement, he continued his calling in education and guided student teachers in their professional development. Bill was proud to serve in the Knights of Columbus, believing strongly in their motto that “I am my brother’s keeper”.

Bill’s greatest joy was his family. He loved spending time with all members of his extended family, and loved having them come to his house, where he delighted in the progress of his garden. We will miss him terribly.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Bill’s memory to Catholic Charities or the American Red Cross.

Funeral Services

Visitation will be private. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00AM on Thursday April 22,2021 at Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church, 12 Winder Rd., New Castle, DE 19720. Interment will be private.


    04/19/2021 06:35 pm
    William Wells
    04/19/2021 06:37 pm
    Rita lit a candle and writes,
    I will always remember Bill with a smile! From the first time we met to the last time I saw him he always showed kindness. I am happy to have given him his "Cassie Girl"! I know he'll be missed by so many and my heart goes out to all of you. All of my love, Rita
    04/19/2021 07:13 pm
    Thelma Hinds lit a candle and writes,
    Tyler, My prayer and condolences on the death of your father is that God would comfort you and your family. Thelma
    04/19/2021 07:43 pm
    Mathew Yarger lit a candle and writes,
    Pops valued his family, followed closely by his peace. He'd give the shirt off his back or his last dollar to someone he cared about without so much as a thought. He didn't see it as an option. It needed to be done and there was no question about it. He always took the time to make sure everyone was well cared for. We would sit and he would entertain with stories from his past, from his time in the Knights, or in service of his country. Often pointing out that the rations weren't great, but they did the job and no one complained about it. He was a man filled with a sense of duty and purpose to others. He dedicated his life to it without question. It had to be done. In the years I've gotten to know him, he welcomed me as family, and always had a sense of positivity, earnestness, and class about him. He grew to fill a space in my life that was left empty at the passing of my own grandfather. While setting an example of what purpose to friends and family, diligence, and integrity looked like in action. When I was around him, he never asked for anything, not once, but always had something to give, a story to share, and a listening ear. He pushed himself as far as he could to look for his family, and he fought to stay and care for everyone as long as he could. It had to be done. But now he gets time to take the break he always needed, and enjoy the peace that he deserves, until his family make it back to him. Where I'm sure he'll be sitting waiting, with a bag full of fresh fruit, a good story, and a listening hear. To fill his purpose again and be there for his family and all those he cared about dearly. His presence will be missed, but not soon forgotten. And I look forward to sitting with him again when the time comes. Until then, I'll just keep following his example, trying to put others above myself, caring about other, and doing what needs to be done.
    04/19/2021 07:45 pm
    Lehman Family lit a candle and writes,
    Sending love and prayers to all of you during this time. May you hold his memories forever in your hearts. The Lehman Clan
    04/19/2021 08:29 pm
    Candace (Shetzler), Stuart, Chance Guntet lit a candle and writes,
    Wonderful to read his rich life story! I remember him as Tyler’s dad and the superintendent once upon a time. How lucky to have cultivated a great loving family. He will be with you always.
    04/19/2021 08:40 pm
    Betsy Klingmeyer Foster writes,
    Phyllis, Sorry to hear of your loss. I did not know Bill, he appears to have achieved many goals and will be greatly missed. My prayers go to you and your family.
    04/20/2021 09:27 am
    Leah Van Gelder lit a candle and writes,
    I am sorry to hear about the lost of your father, Tyler. It is difficult to deal with the finality of a parent's death. My prayers are with you and your family for the hard days to come.
    04/20/2021 12:22 pm
    Laura Burke lit a candle and writes,
    I am so very sorry to hear of the passing of your father. From reading his obituary I can see that he was an educational inspiration who undoubtedly inspired not only you and your family, but many others as well. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
    04/20/2021 12:47 pm
    Lawrence, Samuel Dobens, Asami Onuki lit a candle and writes,
    Please accept our deepest sympathy on the loss of your father. I was lucky to have met him many times in your house and always enjoyed his wit, humor and warmth. His gentle manner is evident in the demeanor of his sons, and I can only imagine the impact he has had on countless students that he influenced. We are so sorry for your loss. We can only imagine how hard this will be on you. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
    04/20/2021 07:08 pm
    Janice Painter writes,
    Tyler and Family, My heart is with you.
    04/21/2021 09:01 am
    Stacie Zdrojewski lit a candle and writes,
    Tyler, On behalf of the Red Clay Consolidated School District, I send condolences and prayers for you and your family. Your father sounds like a wonderful man. May God support you and your mother as he is laid to rest.
    04/21/2021 09:39 am
    Joseph Crossen writes,
    Tyler, I'm sorry for your loss of your father. I know that losing a father is a hard thing, and it sounds like yours was one of the great ones. Joe Crossen
    04/21/2021 02:30 pm
    Sylvia Brooks lit a candle and writes,
    Tyler, I am deeply sorry to hear about the passing of your father. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time.
    04/21/2021 02:49 pm
    Sharon Yoder writes,
    Tyler, it is so hard to lose a parent. My dad and I were really close...and still are! I believe he will always be very close to you. I am so sorry for your loss. Sharon Yoder
    04/22/2021 10:57 am
    Beth Turner lit a candle and writes,
    I worked the front desk at Dr. Nottingham's office. It was always such a joy to see Mr & Mrs Wells come in. Truly one of my favorites. I am so very sorry for your loss. What a great man.
    04/22/2021 08:35 pm
    Monica DeHart lit a candle and writes,
    I was very saddened to hear that Mr. Wells passed away. I am truly sorry for your loss. Heartfelt thoughts go out to you and your family in this time of sorrow. I will always remember the kindness and the support that Mr. Wells gave to me when I became the new art teacher at Smyrna Elementary school many years ago. Mr. Wells was a terrific principal! I only taught there one year because we had to move for my husband’s job. I will never forget how he observed me. He actually sat at the table with the students and did the art project. I remember it was a portraiture lesson. He said if he could follow my directions and was able to do the project then I was successful in my teaching. I thought it was so neat! No principal before him nor after him ever observed me in that way. We eventually moved back to Delaware and I began teaching art at Clayton Elementary school. I retired 2 years ago after teaching art for 31 years. I mentioned Mr. Wells in my speech at my retirement party. I taught in Pennsylvania and Maryland and Delaware. During all those years Mr. Wells remained a favorite principal!
    04/23/2021 08:00 pm
    Cathy Williams lit a candle and writes,
    I fondly remember Mr. Wells. He was one of the kindest, most sincere men I have ever met. Working for him was a joy and a pleasure. He truly listened to us teachers and the students. When I think of him, I instantly think of his gentle and sincere, yet sometimes ornery, smile! Mr. Wells's leadership and congeniality was contagious. He helped make Smyrna Elementary School a family. I am so glad to know he enjoyed his life and family. He most definitely deserved that kind of happiness. God bless all of his family. Love, Cathy (Edwards) Williams
    04/25/2021 07:05 pm
    Patrick VanVeen lit a candle and writes,
    Mr. Wells hired me to work at Smyrna Elementary School. Our first meeting was an impromptu, spur of the moment interview when I was dressed in shorts and sneakers. I knew I liked him right away. He was a good person who had an avuncular quality. He took his responsibilities as our principal seriously and treated others well. It was evident he cared about our students and staff, he did right by others. He was a cheerful personality. I thought of him as light-hearted and able to laugh at himself. He did good things in life and his family is his greatest legacy.
    04/25/2021 11:29 pm
    Jon Buzby writes,
    I am so sorry to hear of Mr. Wells' passing. I worked for him at Smyrna Elementary School and will never forget his support and encouragement as I entered my first year teaching. I've repeated (and credited him with) this quote he told me when I asked if I should wear a tie to the opening breakfast my first year: "You only get one chance to make a good first impression," he said. And he was right, as he so often was. May he rest in peace. Jon Buzby
    04/26/2021 04:39 pm
    Judy A Fawzi writes,
    Phyllis & Family, Maged & I send our thoughts & sympathy. Truly, this is a voice from the past (we met you & Bill via Gus & Barbara years ago in McDaniel Crest) !! Too bad our paths led us in separate areas. Peace to you during this difficult time of loss. Judy
    04/30/2021 09:32 am

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

When you "Light a Candle" the candle image is posted with your condolence.