Graduate assistant remembers Memphis instructor who died of COVID-19 complications

University of Memphis professor remembered after dying of coronavirus

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A graduate assistant of a University of Memphis instructor who died of complications from COVID-19 credits him with influencing her decision to further graduate studies.

Dr. Lenard Wells recently died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin of complications from COVID-19, according to the county medical examiner’s officer there.

“If you ever had Dr. Wells as a student, you were impacted, because that is what he did, he touched every student who walked through that door,” said Katelyn Cherry.

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Cherry became Wells’ graduate assistant this semester and told WMC Action News 5 in a written statement that he pushed her to attend graduate school. She said his impact on all students was profound, drawing on his experience in law enforcement.

“Sure Dr. Wells taught from the textbooks, but he also taught from the heart and his own real-life stories from being in the field. That is what made him an amazing professor, he knew that what he had experienced in life, was what was going to matter to all of the students in front of him,” Cherry said.

Wells had been a criminal justice instructor at the University of Memphis since 2013. He started teaching after a 30-year career with the Milwaukee Police Department and time as chief of the Wisconsin parole board.

A statement from the university’s criminology & criminal justice department chair called Wells an “insightful instructor, researcher, and a supportive colleague in the department.” The statement said he would be sorely missed.

“Thank you, Dr. Wells, for helping me to reach where I am in life and for showing me exactly what I was meant to do,” Cherry wrote.

Health officials in Milwaukee told NBC affiliate WTMJ the 69-year old had underlying health conditions.

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