COOKEVILLE –Spend a few minutes with Tennessee Tech faculty members Susan and Frank “Doc” Wells and you can understand why their marriage has lasted almost 32 years.
They teach together, laugh together and cherish the time they have together.
“I married my best friend,” said Doc. “We each love each other more than we love ourselves.”
“If you laugh every day and you care more about the other one than you do yourself, marriage is going to be easy,” added Susan.
The Wells’ tenure at Tech has lasted almost as long as their marriage. After meeting at Louisiana State University Shreveport, Doc inquired about a job at Tech in 1988.
“I came up here and interviewed without her,” said Doc. “I called her, and I said ‘if they give us enough money we are coming because I love this place. I have found Mayberry.’”
Doc accepted a position in Tech’s School of Business where he has taught for nearly 31 years. Susan joined Doc in Cookeville, finishing up her undergraduate degree at Tech in 1993 and adding a master’s degree in 1995 before joining the College of Business as an adjunct faculty member. As a student, Susan had Doc as an instructor. He was anything but easy when it came to academics.
“He was harder on me than he was everyone else,” said Susan. “He said, ‘I expect more of you.’”
“I didn’t want any perception of favoritism,” Doc added.
Doc is currently a professor of decision sciences and management in the College of Business, teaching computer forensics and investigations along with a capstone class. Susan is an instructor in decision sciences and management, teaching management and IT classes while also serving as the director of Tennessee’s Governor’s School for Business Innovation and Technology. Doc and Susan also team up to teach a class in the summer centered on current legal issues and management in IT. They have offices next to each other in Johnson Hall.
“I have friends that meet us all the time and say, ‘you live together, you ride together, your offices are side by side?’ I say ‘yep, I wouldn’t have it any other way,’” said Susan.
Besides working together at Tech, the Wells also have a computer forensics business together. Needless to say, conversations at home can be dominated by school and work.
“We made a rule a long time ago that after a certain time a day, we don’t talk business or school,” said Susan. “That’s just our rule and it has worked out really well.”
Besides teaching and working on their business, the Wells enjoy watching sports, traveling and spending time with their daughter, Whitney, a Tech alumna who serves as a career counselor at Southern Methodist University.
“Anyone who knows her and then meets us can understand why she is the way she is,” said Susan. “My daughter will tell people that she is our only biological child but that her parents have had a house full of adopted kids over her lifetime.”
Those “adopted” kids are Tech students Doc and Susan have taught over the years. With an M&M dispenser, snack basket, Tide pens and a sewing kit, the Wells welcome their students with open arms.
“We love our students. I can’t tell you how much we care about them,” said Doc. “If you give these kids half a chance, they will surprise you on how good they will do.”
But as well as they get along with their students, Doc and Susan get along even better as a couple.
“We respect each other’s opinion,” said Doc.
“We really do,” added Susan. “We have learned that there is nothing we can argue over that means more to us than our relationship. That’s what we always go back to.”
If there is a lesson to be learned as far as marriage goes, they both agree that laughter is a vital key to a relationship’s success.
“Our house is like a situation comedy,” said Doc. “We laugh all the time. That’s the secret to it. We have so much fun together. We don’t do anything that’s not fun.”
“From cooking a meal to riding to school together, one of us is going to do something to make the other one laugh,” added Susan. “Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh every day. Care more about the other one than you do yourself.”