Kriss Eugene Wells loved his grandkids, and so he fought oil pipelines. Kriss Wells died on January 23, 2020 in Minneapolis after a year long battle with leukemia. He was 68, and incredibly loved.
Kriss was born on December 3, 1951 in Fairfield, IA to his parents, Mabel and Everett Wells. His family moved often for work until they settled at the Cerro Gordo county home and farm, where Everet and Mabel were managers. Kriss was close with his sister Carol, who died at age 20 in a car accident. The same year, Kriss lost his father to heart disease. Mabel lived to be 98 and passed on her exemplary patience and generosity to her son.
Kriss was an athlete in high school and junior college. But his most important teenage hobby was dating his sweetheart Martha, who he married at age 20. The two grew up together and then raised two children. Kriss was a supportive husband and a kind father. His childhood in the county home led him to social work as a career, but he held many jobs throughout his life: factory worker, soccer coach, long-haul trucker, food service worker, substitute teacher, etc.
Kriss helped people whenever he could. He and Martha took in teens in need of housing; he reached out when he knew friends were struggling; he showed up for moving days and stayed late at events to clean up. Kriss volunteered his time at countless community events and political actions. When he became a grandfather, Kriss split his time between childcare and activism.
He officially intervened in the Dakota Access pipeline approval process, citing his role as "grandfather" to give him standing. He walked from Iowa to DC for the Climate March. When the legal process failed he physically blocked pipeline construction and was arrested, twice. Kriss and Martha moved to Minneapolis in 2017 to be near their daughter's family, and so Kriss joined the fight against Line 3 through protest, biting Op-Eds, and low-profile support tasks.
Kriss is survived by his wife Martha Easter-Wells, son Austin Wells (Shanna Fatica), daughter Linda Wells (Tim Phillips), his grandkids Mabel, Josie, Theo, and Silas, and many more family, friends, and accomplices.
A memorial service will be held on February 15th at 3pm at First Universalist Church in Minneapolis (reception to follow). A sharing circle and reception will be held on February 22 at 10am at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities in Davenport, Iowa. Memorial donations can be sent to MN350 or the endowment fund for Progressive Action for the Common Good.