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Wells, Walter Todd

Published onNov 08, 2021
Wells, Walter Todd

(June 6, 1886- November 25, 1964)

Quick Facts

Engineer, inventor and businessman.

Walter Todd Wells was born in Marathon, Iowa. He graduated from North Denver High School in 1904.

He attended Iowa State College (now University), where he was involved in Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, track team and editor of the Iowa Engineer. In 1910, Wells graduated with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering.

One year later, he married Mary Peterson at Manilla in the Philippines Islands. The couple had a daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, Wells T. Jr.

After spending three years of his engineering career in the Philippines, Wells and his wife traveled frequently around Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He later accepted a job as chief engineering on the construction and operation of a plant for the Demerara Boxite company, a subsidiary of the Aluminum Company of America, which became one of the most important sources of aluminum in the world.

In 1932, Wells entered a partnership with W.G. Lane in the Lane-Wells Company, which took over the old Pacific Oil Tool Company of Los Angeles. This company grew to be one of the largest oil field service organizations in the world, with 85 branches in principal oil fields of the United States, Venezuela and Canada. Wells invented the conductor cable, which resists high underground temperatures, and is the basis of most Lane-Wells services.

Wells later founded Superweld Corporation in 1948. This company focused on electric furnace brazing and the manufacturing of metal products.

In 1946, Wells received the Chicago Alumni Association Merit Award and in 1953 was awarded the Dean Anson Marston medal at Iowa State in recognition for his outstanding achievements in engineering. He also was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of science from West Coast University, Los Angeles in 1952 and received an honorary master of arts degree from the California State Polytechnic College, San Luis Obispo, the following year.

Wells and his wife made substantial contributions to local California and national charities. They also donated to Iowa State University scholarship funds and assisted in the completion of Memorial Union renovations. Wells was heavily involved in California education, such as serving on the State College Council and President’s Advisory Council of George Pepperdine College in Los Angeles.

In 1984, Wells passed away in a local hospital in Santa Barbara. He had retired as a consultant to Lane-Wells Co. 33 years previous.

Selected Sources

ISU Special Collections, Iowa State University Library, Ames, Iowa.

The Lane-Wells Story.

Lane Wells-Company records, Collection no. 7055, Regional History Collection, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

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