Living Legacy- Remembering U.S. Marshal Josie Wells

The wife of Josie Wells is turning her pain into purpose while grieving the loss of her husband, killed in the line of duty three years ago

Living Legacy- Remembering U.S. Marshal Josie Wells

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Dr. Channing Wells knows the pain of losing the love of her life, and unspeakable grief.

The wife of U.S. Marshal Josie Wells is turning her pain into purpose and though she is still grieving the loss of her husband, killed in the line of duty three years ago, she says he gave her the gift of life and his legacy provides comfort and strength each and every day.

In March 2015, the life of Channing Wells changed forever. Her husband of three years, U.S. Marshal Josie Wells had been killed in a shootout in Louisiana. He was only 27-years-old.

U.S. Marshal Josie Wells and his wife Channing on their wedding day in 2012. (SOURCE: Dr. Channing Wells)
U.S. Marshal Josie Wells and his wife Channing on their wedding day in 2012. (SOURCE: Dr. Channing Wells)

“Everyday before he would leave to go on the Task Force, he would wake me up at six in the morning and we would say what we call the watch word," remembered Dr. Channing Wells. "May the Lord watch between you and me while we’re absent one from another.”

She would recall the prayer and the strength of her husband in the days ahead.

“We prayed every single day," said Wells. "That’s the foundation. You can’t get through grieving without God.”

Only three months before his death, Dr. Wells and her husband learned, after trying for years, they were expecting a baby.

“We married in June 2012 and we wanted to start a family immediately after, but unfortunately I was diagnosed with health issues that prevented us from conceiving," said Wells. “We went through three rounds of infertility treatments just to conceive him and on Christmas Day of 2014 when we found out that we were pregnant, I knew that was the best day for him because he had prayed to be a father all of his life. He was one of eight and he wanted a child.”

Dr. Wells says it was a difficult time working and praying so hard for the miracle of a baby.

“Often times, prior to that, I felt that I was failing as a wife because I couldn’t give my husband the only thing that he prayed for and when he found out we were pregnant, I just felt like yes!” exclaimed Wells.

Dr. Channing Wells during her pregnancy. (SOURCE: Dr. Channing Wells)
Dr. Channing Wells during her pregnancy. (SOURCE: Dr. Channing Wells)

Their son who is now 3-years-old is named for his father.

Josie Wells Jr. (SOURCE: Dr. Channing Wells)
Josie Wells Jr. (SOURCE: Dr. Channing Wells)

“After my husband passed, my son is the only reason I survived that," said Wells. "I could not cry. I couldn’t grieve because I was scared I was gonna miscarry that little boy. That little boy is what links me to my in-laws, he’s the one who links me to my husband and he’s his legacy and I have to do everything in my power to make sure that he got here safely.”

August 1st, Dr. Wells kept a promise made to her late husband -- to open her own optometry practice. The goal was five years but she did it even sooner, opening Wells Vision LLC in Hazlehurst.

“I don’t want to get emotional. It was a long time coming. I remember the day we talked about it,” recalled Wells. “He said, ‘you’re my Doctor on layaway’.”

Dr. Wells is also reaching out to the widows of other law enforcement officers. She attends a COPS Retreat, which is Concerns of Police Survivors. This year, she took the widows of Jackson Police Detective Eric Smith and Lincoln County Deputy William Durr with her.

Durr’s widow is also an optometrist.

“Once you marry into the blue family, you’re apart of that family forever,” said Wells.

After her husband’s death, Dr. Wells says she felt helpless. She says he always made her feel safe.

“After he passed, I just felt so lost. I was so scared. I was scared of the world," added Wells. "I was scared in terms of law enforcement. I was scared as a widow. I was just scared because that sense of security, it left when he left.”

Now watching her son become more and more like his dad, Dr. Wells says there is a gift her husband has given their little boy.

“His personality, his charm, that carefree spirit. He was just charming and funny," said Wells. "I don’t have him, but I have his stories. I have his stories.”

For family members and loved ones of fallen officers who want to get more information about Concerns of Police Survivors or COPS, CLICK HERE to learn more about their retreats and a national conference scheduled for November.

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