In June 2023, Abington High School awarded a total of $82,000 in scholarships. The Chris Wells Scholarship Fund was responsible for 25% of that funding. THANK YOU to our loyal supporters!!
The Christopher Wells Memorial Scholarship Background Story
In May 1982, Chris died in a tragic motorcycle accident in northern California. Chris was a lifelong resident of Abington, a wonderful son and brother and a tremendous student, athlete and friend. Chris graduated #4 in the Abington High School class of 1975 and went on to study and graduate from Dartmouth College. On the playing field, Chris was among the elite of the elite athletes from his generation on the South Shore. In 2015, Chris was a member of the second class of athletes to be inducted into the Abington High School athletic Hall of Fame.
Chris’s closest friends, many since kindergarten and elementary school, distraught and heartbroken, set out to memorialize the love and friendship they had for Chris – and his role in their lives together – with the establishment of a scholarship bearing his name.
40+ years later, the friends are still at it!
What started out as a desire to create a legacy scholarship for the love of a friend has turned into a passion to provide the kids of Abington, MA a legacy endowment which will provide scholarships in perpetuity.
To date, the scholarship that bears Chris’s name has awarded $163,000 in scholarships and another $500,000+ is held in custody in a Fidelity Investment account, professionally managed by American Wealth Advisors, a wealth advisory services provider owned and operated by one of Chris’s childhood friends.
It is our goal to leave the town with a scholarship endowment of at least $500,000 before we get too old to do this stuff anymore!
Without much time between Chris’s death in May and the June 1982 commencement exercises, the friends met at Jeff & Candy’s house in Abington and initiated a letter campaign to parents, friends, teachers, town businesses and civic organizations and scrounged up enough money to issue its first scholarship, $500 to Matt Burke who was going off to Chris’s alma mater, Dartmouth College.
1982 thru 1992
For the next 10 years the friends organized a basketball tournament, played at the AHS gym, the Friday night and Saturday after Thanksgiving while everyone was home visiting family and friends. That was followed by a dance (OK, it was really a drunkfest) at the K of C on Hancock Street featuring the legendary DJ Bop’N’Bud Stracuzzi. During this time the annual scholarship award grew to $2000!
The major fundraising event of basketball morphed into a golf event due to aching knees, bruised elbows and crushed egos. The younger guys didn’t seem to understand how dominant the Class of ’75 once was and worse, they were starting to giggle under their collective breath (oh if only Chris were here). Anyway, enter now a competitive sport with a handicap system already built in – GOLF!! Yessss! So for over 30 years (except for 2020 – Covid) we have held the Christopher Wells Memorial Golf Tournament and over 40 years both the basketball and golf fund drives – WOW! The perennially sold out golf tournament has proven much less painful, clearly more fair and fun for attendees – of all ages. And by the way, while our chances to win again did improve, alas the truth is the youngin’s are right back to schooling us!
Soon after we started the golf venue, 1975 Abington High classmate, close buddy, dear friend, and a founding member of the Chris Wells scholarship, Frank Ahearn, was, to our great fortune, the manager and head honcho of the Comedy Connection at Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston. He had a eureka moment when he offered to bring his comedian friends out to the tournament to cap off the day with some good laughs. We were never not sold out each year! So thank you Frank – a great idea indeed! The rest as they say, is history.
Our successful collective efforts buoyed with this popular golf event which has greatly aided the scholarship’s growth to its current principle level of over $500,000, and expanding from a single $5000 award to one recipient to multiple annual awards varying in size. It has taken us more than 3 of Chris’s lifetimes but his impact was such that it has sustained us all these years. ♥
We are forever thankful for the steady support originating from our little town of Abington and all its great residents, past and present, and for the many friends of the tournament. So many individuals who had graduated from AHS classes prior to 1975 and post 1975, along with many outside new friends and new contacts created over what has been a lifetime, our lifetime, have helped make and continue to make our fundraising one for the record books. Clearly we have been one of the areas most entertaining, successful and enduring events. Your support has enabled AHS students achieve their hopes for post high school education and will continue to do so for many years to come.
On behalf of the Class of 1975 and the family of Chris Wells and all past and future award recipients – we thank you all so very much!
Frankie was a close childhood friend of Chris and a founding member of the group of friends who established the scholarship in 1982. Until his death from complications from a stroke in July 2010, Frank was a tireless contributor to our fundraising activities.
Frank was very active in the Boston Comedy scene and spent 18 years as the general manager of the Comedy Connection at Faneuil Hall in Boston. It was Frank’s idea to add a comedy show at the end of our Golf Tournament and he was integral in bringing some high level comedic talent to our events. The addition of the comedy to an already fun day of golf and friendship renewal has made our annual tournament a “must go to event” for those who golf in 2-4 tournaments a year. Attendees leave at the end of the day immediately looking forward to next year.
Franks impact on our collective lives has meant as much as Chris’s. While Frank was with us for more than twice as long as Chris, at age 53 he too had his life cut short. Since Frank’s passing, his name has sat alongside Chris’s on the masthead of all fundraising activities in honor and recognition of their friendship and Frank’s efforts in supporting the scholarship over the years.
As a loved friend since grade school, we miss him very much and are forever grateful to have known him, and for all he brought to our lives.
Mary Kate Lane