Lyle C. Wells, 62, an 11th generation farmer of his family farm in Aquebogue, died on his farm Thursday, January 25, 2018.
He was the fourth son of Kenneth Wells and Justine Warner of Eastport. A 1974 graduate of Riverhead High School, Lyle received his Associates Degree in Business from Delhi University in 1976. Upon returning to Aquebogue, he worked at Cornell Cooperative Extension Research Farm in Riverhead and began to resurrect the family farm on Phillips Lane with the help of his wife, Susan, and his parents.
One of the original land grants, the farm was given to William Wells by the town of Southold in 1661. Lyle was especially proud of this lineage and seemed to have the farming “gene” from a very early age, preferring to ride the neighbor’s potato combine to any other “sport” at the age of nine.
As a young adult, Lyle began to work tirelessly to preserve farmland on Long Island. He was a committed and outspoken member of numerous boards and committees over the years: Young Farmers and Ranchers, President of Long Island Farm Bureau (1990-1992), NYS Farm Bureau, Friends of LI Horticulture Committee, Chair of the Ag Advisory Committee to Town of Riverhead, Riverhead Town Farmland Select Committee in which he was instrumental in the land preservation part of the Master Plan, Aquebogue Hamlet Study Committee, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Board of Directors, LIFB Raffle and Membership Committee, founder and chair of LIFB Promotion Committee, chair of Riverhead Local Affairs Committee, NYS Annual Meeting Committee, and the NYS Land Use and Audit Committee. He also sat on the Board of Directors for Farm Credit, was considered the father of the TDR Committee for Riverhead Town and became a member of the Riverhead Town Planning Board in 2002.
He was honored for his excellence in farming in 1998 with LIFB’s Farmer of the Year Award.
With all of his spare time, he managed to farm 70 acres of asparagus, giving him the title “Asparagus King”, 70 acres of sunflowers, which was never enough, and a long list of other crops over the years. His persistence and dedication to his land was second to none.
More than anything else, he will be remembered for his kind heart and big laugh.
Lyle is survived by his children, Jessica de Vera Wells, Matthew and Logan Wells, his grandsons, Laird and Warner de Vera, his brothers Mark and Brett Wells, the mother of his children, Susan Wells, his son-in-law C.P de Vera and his partner Wendy Kukla.
Arrangements were entrusted to McLaughlin-Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead