Patricia Ann Fichthorn was born on May 18, 1934, in Kittanning, Pa., the eldest of four siblings, to Dr. Roswell and Wanda Fichthorn. She was raised, along with her three brothers, in a mixture of country and city life. She graduated high school as valedictorian.
Patricia attended Duke University as an undergraduate and then followed in her father’s footsteps, earning her M.D. from Temple University Medical School. She married Dr. Laurence Day, and they had four children. She completed residency at Trumbull Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio. After residency, Patricia and Laurence parted ways; she moved to central Illinois with her children and best friend, Nancy Altamore, to begin her career as staff physician at the University of Illinois McKinley Health Center. During her years at McKinley, she also had side jobs piercing ears at Carson’s and seeing patients at the Danville Correctional Center. At McKinley, she was well liked by her patients, some of whom referred to her as “Dr. Mom.” She was also a strong advocate for female physicians to receive comparable pay to their male collegues.
After moving to Champaign, Patricia married Richard Wells. Together they moved to rural Champaign County, where they spent the next 50 or so years combining a homestead lifestyle with their careers at the UI. Patricia loved the homestead life and was an accomplished country cook; raised gardens every year; planted fruit trees, berry bushes and grapevines; and raised all sorts of livestock. She had a special interest in dairy goats, and one of her registered goats broke a national record for high butterfat content. In later years, she and Richard divided their time between their homestead in Illinois and a homestead they created in central Florida, complete with citrus trees, avocado bushes and livestock.
Patricia was known for her kindness and generosity as well as her love of animals. She had a variey of friends, including her country neighbors, friends from Amish country and her physician and nurse colleagues. She enjoyed auctions, quilting, canning and making butter and cheese and took pride in sharing what she made with family, friends and colleagues. She traveled frequently to see her relatives both in Pennsylvania and Maine.
Patricia passed away at Amber Glen in Urbana on Saturday (June 11, 2022).
She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, William and James Fichthorn; husband, Richard Wells; and son, Robert Wells.
She is survived by her brother, Dr. Joseph “Jaggs” (Maryanne) Fichthorn of Maine; sister-in-law, Pauline Fichthorn of Pennsylvania; son, Larry (Christine) Wells of Sadorus; daughters, Sheila Raila, Valerie (Steven) Skaperdas and Merry (Allen) Satterfield of Champaign, Dorene (Mike) Allis of Effingham and Melinda (Frank) Mabry of Savoy; grandchildren, U.S. Marine Katharine Wells, Victoria Wells, Wesley Johnson, Gretchen Raila, Jesse Day, Jonathon Jackson, Joseph Jackson, Brandon Satterfield, Samantha Torell, Rex Shaw, Tony Shaw, Lisa Young, Brian Bialeschki, Rachel Bialeschki and Sarah Foss; and Patricia’s friend, Nancy Altamore; as well as nieces, nephews and great-grandchildren. Patricia’s family will always love and miss her.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, June 18, at 1:30 p.m. at Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home, 201 N. Elm St., Champaign.
In lieu of flowers to honor her memory, the family requests that a donation be made to the Champaign County Humane Society.