Francis X. "Frank" Wells, a retired insurance executive who had a passion for politics and thoroughbred horse racing, died Wednesday at Lorien Mays Chapel of complications from prostate cancer.
The longtime Owings Mills resident was 87.
The son of Dr. Charles Joseph Wells, a physician, and Elizabeth Owens, a homemaker, Francis Xavier Wells was born in Baltimore and raised in Mount Washington.
After graduating in 1946 from Loyola High School, Mr. Wells enlisted in the Army and served two years as a medic with occupation forces in Japan. He was discharged with the rank of master sergeant.
He received a bachelor's degree in 1952 from the University of Pennsylvania and began his career as a stock trader on Wall Street when he joined Kidder, Peabody & Co.
In 1956, he began his insurance career at First Federated Life Insurance, where he rose to become senior vice president.
From 1966 to 1970, he was also a commissioner and vice chairman of the Maryland Port Authority.
Mr. Wells founded Coastline Financial Services Inc. in 1977 and worked there until he retired in 2005.
He was also active in Democratic politics.
"He served on Gov. Harry Hughes' 1978 campaign committee for governor," said Joseph M. Coale III of Ruxton, who managed the campaign and later became an aide to Hughes. "He was very loyal to Harry and the effort."
"Frank was a good friend and supporter," said Mr. Hughes, who lives in Denton.
Mr. Wells was appointed to the Maryland Racing Commission in 1983 and again in 1987, and served on committees working to improve Maryland racing.
His lifelong love of thoroughbred horse racing began when he used to walk as a youngster to Pimlico Race Course, not far from his home. He was 9 years old when he accompanied his father, also a racing enthusiast, to Pimlico to witness the famed match race between Seabiscuit and Triple Crown winner War Admiral.
Mr. Wells was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, Maryland Club and the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club.
In addition to horse racing, he enjoyed golfing, squash and playing gin.
Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 232 St. Thomas Lane, Owings Mills.
Mr. Wells is survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Irene Birely; a son, John D. Wells of Owings Mills; a daughter, Susan Wells Thompson of Millburn, N.J.; two sisters, Annalee Wells of West Hartford, Conn., and Mary Grace Casey of Dublin, Ohio; and six grandchildren.
—Frederick N. Rasmussen