May 22, 2011 - The Home Depot, Joplin: As the storm approaches, a team of four managers and associates locate customers and escort them to the training room to take cover. Dean Wells, the Department Head of Electrical, finds his way to the training room, but decides to make one last sweep of the store. At the front entrance, he sees a car pull up - a father and his two children are frantically seeking shelter. Dean rushes them into the store and tells them where to go for safety. A wall collapses, and Dean loses his life. His children lose their father, and his wife loses her husband, one day shy of their 42nd wedding anniversary.
Dean saved 12 people that day. According to his obituary and an article about him, he spent his life helping others. And one site I stumbled upon mentions that his daughter found a note in his desk that he wrote to her, stating that the best way to pass on is by helping others. What a truly wonderful man.
I never met this man, and I've never been to Joplin. Yet somehow, it feels like I lost a member of my Home Depot family. It feels like that could have been our store, or our town, or it could have been my family frantically seeking shelter. Thank you, Dean, for your selflessness and for making the ultimate sacrifice trying to save others. You will be forever remembered.