By Wells Lyman

In 1967 and 1968 I walked through the Central Highlands of Vietnam as a Forward Observer with an infantry rifle company. It, however, took me thirty-five years to walk past the black marble wall listing the names of the Vietnam dead. It wasn’t my intention to go but as it turned out, in 2002, my twenty-seven year old daughter was working in the Capitol Building. I had flown in to Washington D.C. to visit her.

On our one free afternoon we strolled the Washington Mall. First the Capitol Building, then past the shadows of the Washington Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial where once inside we silently starred at the visage of President Lincoln and read on the walls his words of solace and pain.

Down the stairs and to the right we came upon the Korean War Memorial with it’s giant ghostly soldiers patrolling the granite wall from which one could see beloved photographs of young men and women starring out in disbelief.

Passing again the Lincoln Memorial, we walked down a small shady path and found the Vietnam Wall. As we approached I think my daughter half expected me to retreat into some private melancholy, but it didn’t happen. I actually felt little emotion as we wandered down the length of the path. To our left the wall increased in height and stature and the rows of names grew longer, but we were more interested in our own conversation. I was so relishing one of the fleeting times that I could be alone with my daughter.

Then factitiously she remarked, “I’ll bet your glad your name isn’t on the wall.” I joked back, “Well, if my name were here, in some way your name would be here too.” With that I recognized the obvious. The tragedy of war is; the young die, and there is something very unsettling about that.

If I were to die today, my family and friends would say it was all too soon. I would be mourned, but life would still continue, as it should, uninterrupted. That is not true when the young die. For with them go their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and all of the offspring of each. Think of the endless unfulfilled experiences that die with the young.

Wells Lyman

Wells LymanThe San Diego County Bar Association’s new president, Wells Lyman, came to the law naturally. his father having been a prominent lawyer in Cleveland. Ohio, for more than 60 years. The last thing Wells ever intended to do. however, was to follow in his father’s professional footsteps.

Wells attended Lakewood High School in Cleveland and graduated from Ohio State University in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in business. While at Ohio State, he was as a member of ROTC, which led to an officers commission in the U.S. Army after graduation and a year’s tour in Vietnam as a forward observer. He earned a Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars, an Army Commendation for heroism and au Air Medal for 50 combat assaults. Sadly, he saw his company sustain great casualties during the Tet Offensive. In Vietnam, he realized that while he was from a family of privilege, most of his fellow American soldiers were not, which instilled a greater compassion toward the “have nots” of our society.

Upon his return from Vietnam in 1968 Wells experienced culture shock due to the political upheaval in America. At this critical crossroads in his life, he left Cleveland by car in November I 968 and was faced with two routes—one lead-ing south to Florida, the other west to California. He headed west and eventually found himself in San Diego, where he succumbed to the family tradition and attended California Western School of Law. Thanks to the discipline he learned in the Army, he did well at Cal Western but admits he found plenty of time for a new

passion and surfed almost daily,

After being sworn in as a California lawyer in December 1973, Wells began practicing law out of his home in East County. During his early years, he was fortunate to have had the advice and influence of East County legal legends Mike Brcnnan and Mickey Bruce, and this helped him develop a successful practice.

Wells first became a Foothills Bar Association member in 1993 and, after serving as its treasurer, secretary and Vice president, was elected president in 2000. Wells has also served regularly over the past 20 years as an East County judge pro tem and for the past several years as a regular columnist for the Foothills Bar Newsletter and emcee for its annual installation diner. Ultimately, his Foothills Bar involvement led to his election as the East County representative on the SDCBA Board of Directors in 2001.

Fellow East County lawyers and former Foothills Bar president (1990) Gary Glauser calls Wells “the jewel of the Foothills Bar” due to the terrific humor and musical talent he brings to Bar events, as well as his exceptional legal skills. Glauser who has opposed Wells in many family law cases, credits him with sincerely caring for his clients and working to settle their cases fairly.

When his cases don’t settle, Wells becomes a formidable courtroom advocate. Superior Court Judge Christine Goldsmith echoes Glauser’s observations, commending Wells on his collaboration with her on masters’ degree classes at Alliant University on the subject of “Getting Family Law Litigants Through the Process.” Goldsmith also lauds Wells for his quick wit, genuine love of people and years of service as judge pro tem.

As his fellow board members know, Wells is an accomplished guitarist and comes by his talents naturally, his mother was a concert violinist, his father a “speakeasy trumpeter and his sister a jazz pianist. Wells played with various musical groups through college, the Army and law school, ,and he now plays regularly for Foothills and County Bar social events.

Wells is very proud of his wife of 24-plus years, Leola, his two adult children, Blair and Drew and his stepson, Lacy. He says they collectively have kept him “grounded.” Wells and Leola are actively involved with College Avenue Baptist Church, writing for church concerts and worship services, as well as also singing in the choir and playing guitar.

East County is rightly proud to have Wells elected as the incoming San Diego County Bar president, and all San Diego lawyers are fortunate to have such a “renaissance man” lead the Bar Association in the coming year. (2005) One thing is certain: His presidency won’t be dull.

                                                                        James W. Talley practices family law

                                                                        and workers’ compensation law in

                                                                        Escondido, Calif. with Galyean, Talley

                                                                                                                 & Wood.

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