James Wells, member of 'Friendship 9,' passes away at Rock Hill home

'Friendship 9' member leaves behind legacy

ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - He will forever be remembered as a member of the group that changed history. On Sunday, James Wells of Rock Hill passed away at his home at the age of 77.

Wells was a member of a nine-man team that was arrested in Rock Hill in 1961 at the old McCrory's lunch counter. The group sat down and ordered lunch at the whites-only establishment.

They were subsequently arrested and sentenced to a $100 fine and 30 days at a York County prison camp.

Monday morning, at the sight of the old McCrory's, the iconic chair where Wells sat down was covered by a cloth. The restaurant - now Five and Dine - still features the old chairs where the team made history.

Fellow Friendship 9 member Willie Massey was at the restaurant on Monday. He remembers Wells as a close friend.

"He was a very mild-mannered guy who could just about change anybody's mind with whatever they were thinking about doing wrong."

Wells went on to serve in the Air Force then as an attorney in Columbia and Rock Hill. All members of the group arrested in 1961 were absolved of the charges against them in 2015.

Arrangements for Wells' memorial service were not complete as of the time of this publication.

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