His father, Melchezdeck Wells said, referred to the city as his pulpit and called himself a "reverend of the streets."
Thera Martin Milling, a member of One Day at a Time's board, said every Christmas, Mr. Wells would lead volunteers on a mission to give presents to the children within a 10-block radius of his home. The neighborhood has high instances of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS, and many children in need.
"People that no one else wanted to be around, Rev. Wells wanted to be around," Milling says. "He was a special man."
A native of Ocala, Fla., born on Christmas 1929, Mr. Wells dealt drugs before coming to Philadelphia in 1975 to get away from his troubles there. He continued his dealing here, but that ended not long after he met and fell in love with a neighbor, Margaret Edwards.
The two married in 1979, and the road to his recovery was set.
After finishing a recovery program that included hospitalization, Mr. Wells asked his wife whether some friends from the program could stay with him. Most of them had no place to go after recovery and he feared they would relapse.
His wife agreed and the seeds of One Day at a Time were sown.
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Wells is survived by stepchildren James Ramsey, Delois Ramsey, and Debbie Ramsey, and children Taisha Faust, Gaynell Harris, Farentin Rush James, Santrell James, Thomas James, and Anthony Williams; and several grandchildren.
A viewing is set for 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, 2001 W. Lehigh Ave., followed by a funeral service at the church.
Contact Megan Lydon at firstname.lastname@example.org.