Quiet leadership: Snead-Stebbins award winner likes to stay behind the scenes.

Many developed communities as well as civic groups in the Chester area have been successful due to the quiet movements of the Chester Business Association (CBA) 2010 Snead-Stebbins Business Person of the Year recipient. Nearly 80 guests, that included members and guests of the CBA, honored W. Courtney Wells during their year-end picnic last Thursday for his service to the community through his business success, civic involvement and philanthropic contributions.

Wells, 76, over the years has preferred to remain in the background and work as a silent partner in his business ventures, never wanting recognition for the good deeds he has done for the citizens of Chester.  Developed communities in the Chester area which include Trueheart Heights, Wellington Farms and the Village Green have the seeds and financial backing of Wells, and the proposed Kiwanis Park on Curtis Street, the former Chester Hotel property is one of several silent donations by Wells and partner Wesley Burton.

“I was thrilled and honored,” said Wells upon receiving this year’s award.  “I don’t think I deserve it.”

Long-time friend and fellow Lions Club member Carl Chandler said, “I think he is great for the community; as a business leader and social leader.  As a Lion’s Club member he has held every position that was available.”  

Jim Daniels, owner of Longest and Daniels Realtors, who is a friend and partner in various projects with Wells said, “He always has the interest of the community at heart.  He does a lot of good in the community that goes unseen because he is a very quiet person.”

Wells was raised in Enon and attended Enon Elementary when it was a four-room schoolhouse.  “Midge House was my first grade teacher and Martha Thompson was the principal,” Wells said.  After graduating Thomas Dale High School in 1951 he went to work for the Chesterfield County Bank.  When the Bank of Virginia bought the bank in the early 60s, he and Louis Longest, who also was employed by the bank, formed a partnership selling real estate and insurance.  Wells received his real estate license in 1964.

The pairs’ first major development was Trueheart Heights on land located behind Thomas Dale High School.  The partnership ended in the mid-80s when they split their rental properties and Wells taking the insurance side of the business.

Today, Wells Realty manages nearly 200 properties.  He sold the insurance business with the exception of a probate bonding business to three of his employees five years ago.   “The insurance business outgrew the building,” he said.  “It was a smooth transition.”   On keeping the probate bonding side of the business he added, “It [probate bonding] was my first love as far as insurance is concerned and I still do that here.”

Presently he has two agents and two employees at the Centre Street location where he has been since breaking off his partnership with Longest. What he loves most about the business is bringing happiness to people “I enjoy finding people homes and making them happy in their homes,” he said.

Even though he has been involved in developing communities, naming nine, he thinks the gradual growth in Chester has worked out well.  “I think the gradual growth [of Chester] has been good,” he said.  “I would hate to see a large project like Branner Station come in.  It would be like I-95 coming through Chester.  Gradual growth is more positive.”

Along with being a Lions Club member for nearly forty years, he is also an active member of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, the CBA and the Chester Presbyterian Church.  What he enjoys most about his civic involvement as a Lions Club member is getting new members.  “Getting new members is a good way to get people involved in their community,” he said.

“Everybody should get involved in civic organizations.  All organizations work for the benefit of communities.  Pick your calling and do it.”

Wells has one daughter and two step-children.  His “pressure release valve” as he calls it is a log cabin he built 35 years ago overlooking Lake Chesdin. He also enjoys building bluebird houses. He cherishes his time at the lake even though, he said, “Cell phones have taken that away.”


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