Indiana University Bloomington

Three generations of encounters

Mark Beebe

My Dad told the story of coming to Bloomington as a visiting instructor for a summer session in the late '50s. At an English Department picnic he struck up a conversation with a friendly administrator who seemed to take a kind personal interest in him. As a visitor with no local friends he appreciated the attention. Dad was shocked to realize, only later, that this was the president of the university!

When I worked as a clerk in Owen Hall, where Herman's office as chancellor is located, I saw him often in the hallways. He never failed to smile and extend a personal greeting. In later years, as I worked security at the Art Museum, I would see him attend nearly every showing and concert. It was impressive to see the interest he displayed as he would ask his assistant to read out loud to him each and every label in a given exhibit.

Finally, there was the time when my daughter, Leah, was a toddler. I was holding her in the tiny elevator in Owen Hall (just about big enough for two or three people!) when the door opened and HE stepped on. A costumed Herman Wells to me, but to her the one and only Santa Claus. Her eyes got big as saucers and she began to bawl, or more accurately, to scream. He just smiled and said it happened all the time.

From Remembering Herman B Wells, 1901-2000:, March 22, 2000

Thanks to the Bloomington Herald-Times for allowing Digital Wells to publish these excerpts from their archive.