Over the course of a life that’s taken him from East Texas to European World War II battlefields to Baytown, Odell Wells has earned his share of honors.
Wells, 93, earned another distinction when he became the first patient admitted to Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital’s new 2 North medical/surgical unit on September 26. Wells celebrated his designation as the first patient in the 26-bed unit located in the Baytown hospital’s new three-story tower alongside his son, Walter, and hospital staff.
“I’m honored to be the first,” Wells said. “I don’t necessarily like being in the hospital, but being the first patient here is a pretty good honor and this is a very nice room.”
Wells, who’s been under the care of Houston Methodist Baytown primary care physician Dr. Greg Terry for over 20 years, was receiving treatment for double pneumonia and is now looking forward to his 94th birthday in January.
Born in the tiny East Texas town of Broadus, Wells moved to Baytown in 1950 after serving in the Army during World War II under legendary U.S. commander General George S. Patton.
“I served in the 87th Infantry Division, Third Army under Patton and was in the Battle of the Bulge and three other major campaigns in the European theater,” Wells recalls. “I was very fortunate to get through all of that. I was in the Army about for 2 ½ years. I wouldn’t take anything away from the experience, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.”
Wells said he interacted with Patton on several occasions during his time in the Army and remembers the general as a strict, but caring commander who visited troops on the front line frequently.
“One day he tapped me on the shoulder and asked, ‘Soldier, when was the last time you had a hot meal?’ I told him it had been about two weeks,” Wells said. “He said, ‘Well, you’re gonna get one today.’ He was quite a guy.”
After the war, Wells played for a semi-pro baseball team in Baytown sponsored by J.H. Rose Trucking, and, later for a successful fast pitch softball team. He and wife, Laverne, who passed away in November 2018, had three children during their 68 years of marriage. After being employed in several industrial jobs over the years, he retired from his position as a boilermaker superintendent with Brown & Root in Baytown after 22 years on the job.
Wells, who has three great grandchildren, said he has been treated at Houston Methodist Baytown several times through the years and has always appreciated the excellent care he receives.
“I have had very good experiences at this hospital,” he said. “They’ve always gotten me back to where I can perform again. I really appreciate everything the doctors and nurses do for me.”