David Wells, founding editor of Oxford Observer, dies at 71

By Alex Lavine

David Wells, former editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer and Oxford Observer, died Monday, April 10, at age 71 in Cincinnati. Wells was the founding editor of the Observer.

“He made the Observer happen,” said Richard Campbell, former chair of Miami’s Media, Journalism & Film Department.

Campbell said that Wells was an extremely hard worker who had to be convinced to take a month off in the summer. Wells was also adamant that Oxford had a news source and that it would not become a news desert.

“It’s a huge loss. I’m thankful we had David Wells [at Miami],” said Campbell.

 Patricia Gallagher Newberry, former Miami Journalism Program director, praised how Wells cared for and helped all his students after he started teaching journalism at Miami in 2011.

“He was always willing to work with students no matter how skilled they were,” Newberry said. “I admired how he never gave up on students.”

Newberry said she thought there were some nights that he would spend all night editing the Observer. 

“He worked into the wee hours many Thursdays,” said Newberry. “I think there were some Thursdays he would work all night to get stories ready.”

His co-workers said his caring attitude rubbed off. 

“He was a reminder to all JRN professors that what we do as faculty members matters,” Newberry said. “How we deal with students matters.” 

Wells’ wife, Antoinette, died in 2014. He is survived by his son, Brian Wells, daughter Caroline Stanton, grandkids Braden and Jackson Wells and Alice and Fiona Stanton; as well as brothers Bill and Ben Wells.

Colleagues said Wells frequently struck up conversations about his family with colleagues. 

“I had a lot of great conversations with David. He was always talking about his family,” Newberry said. 

Wells’ daughter Caroline Stanton said he believed in journalism as an art, not just a job. Outside of work, he spent time with his grandchildren and enjoyed reading up on history, especially the Civil War. 

“He always knew what he believed in and never backed down,” Stanton said. “He made it my obligation to question things.”

Funeral services are scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, April 15 at St. Francis Xavier Church in Cincinnati. 

Memorials may be directed to Oxford Observer, Report for Ohio Fund (MJF713), Miami University Bursar, 301 S. Campus Ave., Oxford, OH 45056