Charles Laban Wells, a D-Day Navy veteran and a retired Baltimore County public schools painter, died Friday of complications from liver disease at his Hampstead home. He was 81.
Born in the Canton section of Baltimore to a police officer and a homemaker, Mr. Wells was raised in eastern Baltimore County.
He attended Baltimore County schools until eighth grade, when he began to build homes with his uncle.
Mr. Wells volunteered for the Navy in 1943. He completed his training at the Naval Training Center in Bainbridge, and was sent to England to prepare for the Normandy invasion. On D-Day, Mr. Wells was a crew member of a landing craft in the second wave of the invasion that ferried armored vehicles of the Army's 29th Division to Omaha Beach.
Shortly after returning to Baltimore, he met Emma Branchetti, who worked at an aircraft plant. The two married in 1946. Mrs. Wells died in 2005.
Mr. Wells joined the Head Ski Co. in the mid-1950s. While at the company, he became chief of facilities. He remained with the company until it moved out of the area in the mid-1960s. He then performed maintenance work, including painting, for the Baltimore County school system. He worked for the schools for more than 25 years. He retired in the early 1990s.
He was allowed to work independently, said a son, Charles Joseph Wells of Bethesda. There was the variety of going to the various locations throughout the county.
In his spare time, Mr. Wells enjoyed boating on the Chesapeake Bay. He had at least four boats, including a 16-foot runabout and a 24-foot cabin cruiser.
He was also known for waking up family members and co-workers at 4 a.m. for a day of crabbing and fishing on the bay.
Mr. Wells was a longtime member of the American Legion.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Eline Funeral Home, 934 S. Main St., Hampstead.
In addition to his son, Mr. Wells is survived by another son, Michael T. Wells of Hampstead; a sister, Edith Deloach of Phoenix, Ariz.; and a granddaughter.