Mayor Irene E. Wells


Irene Elizabeth Wells departed this life on December 14, 2021, at Ballad Bristol Regional Medical Center Bristol, TN. Irene was born November 13, 1944, in Meadowview, Va., to her late parents, Isaac Coleman and Roxie Milliner Coleman.


Irene was also preceded in death by her siblings, Mary (Hugh) Carter, Marvin “Red” Coleman, Jim Coleman, Bill Coleman, Evelyn (Frank) Campbell, Sarah (Glen) Gammon, and Dave Coleman; son-in-law, Robert Alan Leatherwood; and sister-in-law, Marge Coleman.


Irene was active in the Sullivan County Democrats. She was a member of the State of Tennessee Board of Responsibility for the medical board, Sullivan County Jury Commission, United Way of Bristol, American Red Cross, Farm Services Board, Vice President of Bluff City United Fund, President of Ruritan of Bluff City, and President of the Sullivan County Democratic Women’s Club. She also represented Bluff City in the Sullivan Co., Bluff City, Kingsport Animal Board (Pet Works Regional Animal Service Member), Networks Sullivan County Partnership Executive Board Member, Sullivan County Family Justice Board, First Tennessee Human Resource Agency, Vice-Chair First Tennessee Development District Board Member, Johnson City Metropolitan Transportation Planning Executive Board Member, Northeast Tennessee Home Consortium Executive Board Member, Bluff City Planning & Zoning Board Member.


Irene was the first black alderwoman and the first female mayor. She worked tirelessly for the community and the employees. She cared so much that she decided that every employee, official, and city lawyer should receive a $5,000 bonus from covid funds. She managed to do this before her passing. Employees were still able to receive the traditional $100 bonuses for Christmas. This was important to her because of her love for the people of Bluff City, TN. Additionally, the erroneous claim that she was to receive $20,000 from the covid fund was untrue and unfounded.


She loved to cook for her beloved family and friends. Irene was a loving and caring mayor for her community. Irene was blessed and excited for the news of her first great-grandchild. She was a devoted wife and mother dedicated to her husband, daughters, and grandchildren. She welcomed all with loving hospitality and never met a stranger. Irene worked at Univac/Sperry/Unisys in personnel until they closed.


Irene is survived by her loving husband, Billy G. Wells; daughters, Cynthia Wells-Leatherwood and Rebecca Wells Phillips and husband Greg; two grandchildren, Robert Leatherwood and Jasmine Phillips Wood and husband Aubrey; and siblings, Prince Coleman, Mack Coleman, Charles Lee, and Tony Coleman.


Services for Ms. Irene Wells will be conducted Sunday, December 19, 2021, at 2 pm from First Baptist Church in Bluff City, TN. The family will receive friends from 1 pm until the time of service. Interment will follow at East Tennessee Cemetery in Blountville, TN.

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