Ology is often translated as the study of. It is from the root word logos, word in Greek. It is more accurately translated as what can be said of.
Theology- that which can be said about God.
Psychology- that which can be said about the mind.
What can be said about Dan Theo Wells?
We must first establish his identity. Who is Dan Theo Wells?
He is a man of many titles: Bub, Slim, Pop. I suppose that some of my cousins could say that they lost Uncle Bub, Uncle Slim, and Uncle Dan and elicit treble condolences from sympathetic friends.
But when the roll was called in the Army only one name was read out, Dan Theo Wells. After a moments hesitation, Slim and Bub both stepped forth.
I knew him as Pop. My paternal grandfather. And really the only grandfather I knew. Tinker Reynolds- or Brant Douglas Reynolds, both one and the same- died when I was only two years old.
Most people knew Pop as Slim. But unless you were one of my cousins from Chicago, it only sounds right if you say it with a Southern accent. For anyone who struggles with a Southern accent, when in doubt make the vowel a diphthong: Slee-um.
Pop was incredibly economic in his elocutionary endeavors. I have ridden from Sterrett to Irondale and back with Pop and said fewer than three sentences.
Throughout my life, Pop was not a church-going man. I used to screw up the courage to invite him to church from time to time.
“Pop, you ought to come to church with us tonight.”
“I know son.” He would sigh.
I remember reading James 1:27 as a teenager and immediately thinking about Pop.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
James 1:27 KJV
In part, Pop was a deeply religious man. He always kept a substantial garden. Perhaps it may seem a small thing to many, but he grew it to share. I guess you could say that he visited the widow of Tinker Reynolds in her affliction. Among many others.
Pop was also a man of principle. Pop never allowed alcohol at any of the barbecues he hosted. In his way, he more than once warned his employees in the hay business-Zach and me- about the dangers of alcohol.
“I took one drink when I was young and it tasted like horse ?¡$ś.”
I always thought that sounded pretty dangerous.
I think that because he was a man of principle he had an excellent reputation in his community. Integrity doesn’t require wealth or education, integrity requires character. Pop had character.
Around 2012 I think, Pop had an accident on an old Farm-All tractor. He started the tractor before he was fully seated and the tractor was already in gear. The sudden jerky motion threw him off balance and he fell off but his foot hung on one of the pedals and he was trapped in front of the engaged rear wheel. The tractor drug him a few feet until the barn post stopped the forward motion, but the huge tractor tire continued completely tear off his left quadriceps.
Nonna eventually heard him screaming and she ran out to the barn.
“Turn off the tractor!” He said.
It was the hand of God that Dennis Brasher-I think this is the right name, forgive me if I am wrong- happened to be driving by listening to the police scanner. He instinctively knew that the call was for Pop.
“Slim, I’m sorry this is going to hurt.” He said as he applied pressure to the gruesome wound. He kept his hands on what was left of Pop’s thigh for the whole ambulance ride to Birmingham. it is a testimony to Pop’s toughness that he remained conscious for the entire ordeal.
I honestly thought Pop was going to die then, so I got on an airplane and flew to Alabama from Virginia. But he was made of tougher stuff than I thought and lived another nine years out of spite I believe.
Time would fail me to recount a lifetime of fond memories of Pop. Perhaps the best thing that I can say about Pop, is that he had a good name. Even if few used it and even fewer knew it.
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
Proverbs 22:1 KJV
The last time I saw him coherent was October 27th. He and Nonna had soundly whipped COVID-19 much to my surprise and delight, but something had interfered with Pop’s Parkinson’s medicine and he had begun to hallucinate.
One moment he would be talking to me as clear as he was capable and the next moment he would just be talking to himself, or to whoever would listen about something that happened 40 years ago. Then he would be in the present 40 years ago, or perhaps in a dream.
But he knew who I was when I walked in.
“Is that Zane? Set me up.”
“I’m sorry you got to see me like this.” He said referring to the hospital bed.
“I’ve been worried about y’all’s sugar so I brought y’all some peach pies.”
We chatted for a little bit. Before Pop said, “Give me one of them pies.”
“The more I eat it, the better it gets.” He said with a grin
I must confess that this is not how I want to remember Pop. Sure the hat is there and those look like his hands. But I want to remember the Pop who hit a charging cow with a 2×4. And the Pop who lifted me with one hand into his Toyota pickup truck because I was too little to climb in by myself. And the Pop who brought me a cowboy hat one night after his trip to Tennessee. And the Pop who would bring all of us grandkids an Icee.
I want to remember this Pop. And I hope you do too.
I love you Pop.
Dan Theo “Slim” Wells, was born on April 16th 1935 to Daniel Webster Wells and Dovie Dunnaway Wells. He served the United States Army in the 3rd Armored Division from 1958-1960. He married Nola Mae Brasher. They had three children Perry Charles, Melvin Johnny, and Jason Theo.
Mr. Wells began working for Stockham Valves and Fittings shortly after his discharge from the Army. He retired from Stockham in the mid 1990s before the plant closed. During his time at Stockham he helped cast many of the valves for the Alaskan Pipeline.
Dan Theo Wells passed from this life in his home on November 12th, 2021.