David Wells

29th May 1972 - 11th February 2023

On Thursday 22nd February, 2024 at 11:30am a service of thanksgiving for the life of David Wells was held at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street.
Download Order of Service (pdf)


The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce delivered the opening:

A very warm welcome to St Bride’s, as we come together to honour the memory and to celebrate the life of a truly remarkable man: David Wells. 

David was not only outstandingly accomplished in his field and in the work that he loved, and at which he excelled – he was also an outstanding human being, who was much loved and respected by all who knew him.

It was a terrible shock when his life was cut short so suddenly and tragically, and the sense of loss shared by everyone here today has been profound.  And yet, we also have so much for which to be thankful – because the world was greatly the richer for his presence within it – and all whose lives he touched were the richer for having known him.

We begin with an opening prayer.  Let us pray:

Loving God, our refuge and our strength,
We are here to give thanks for the life of David,
whom we love but see no longer,
Though parted from us in this life,
he remains alive in our hearts
and in our love.
Hold him in your perfect and infinite care,
Until the day comes when we, too, can find life,
and peace and perfect joy with him,
enfolded in your love and grace for all eternity. 
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


David Wighton

When Lionel Barber took over running the FT in New York in 2002 he had a clear hiring strategy. He wanted to take on more Americans, preferably good-looking ones. “After a couple of tries,” he recalls, “I hit the bullseye with David Wells.”

I hadn’t met David before he arrived at the FT and it was immediately clear that he wasn’t just good looking, he was also a very nice, a very good, guy. Though he came to the FT with a great reputation from Bloomberg, that did raise one question. Can you be a really nice guy and a really good reporter?

David proved conclusively that you can. But there is clearly a tension. David liked to think the best of people. And a reporter does have to write stuff that can be very painful for the subjects.

As Lionel points out, David was very unusual for the FT at that time, not only did he really know about banking, he actually liked bankers. And, as I quickly discovered, they really liked him. We would go together to interview some of the top people on Wall Street and they would be genuinely delighted to see him. And they would be so disarmed by his Texan charm they would let their guard down just a bit.

Yet while David was the most generous of people he was also very astute about their flaws. I remember we went to see Dick Fuld in his office at Lehman Brothers way before the financial crisis. When we came out David said to me “that guy is so arrogant, it’s going to get them into trouble one day”.

And though David was always scrupulously fair to people, and really didn’t enjoy putting the boot in, he was prepared to do so when it was deserved.

One of his great strengths as a journalist and a person, was his calm under fire. Steve Cohen says he will never forget what it was like working with David at Bloomberg on 9/11, a day more than any other that called for David’s calm professionalism and humanity. Every year after that, until last year, wherever they were on November 11, David and Steve would talk and remember that day.

David was a great storyteller, both in print and in the bar, and was a lovely writer, particularly of the features and diary pieces he so enjoyed doing. As Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson pointed out in his tribute last year, David’s pieces contained a suspiciously large number of references to Texas, golf, cocktails and high-end cars. Often in combination.

In one piece he compared the Lincoln Mark LT pick-up truck to a Texas tux. For the benefit of FT readers, David explained: “A Texas tux includes a traditional tuxedo coat, a heavily starched white shirt and starched jeans, preferably Wranglers. Accessories include a garish waistcoat or tie and a cummerbund, ideally resembling the Texas state flag or a university mascot. Bolo ties can be worn but are generally frowned upon because they’d just be silly. For shoes, boots made of ostrich or some other dead animal with patterned skin will do. A Stetson or Resistol hat made of beaver fur completes the outfit.”

David himself was a very natty dresser, with a twist. Another FT colleague Jolie Hunt remembers him at his desk one day wearing footwear more appropriate to a Texas formal than a pre-Covid office. “David,” she asked, “are you wearing cowboy boots?” “Darlin’,” came the reply “where I come from we just call these boots.”

Although David was a very fine journalist and a huge success on the FT, when he went into comms at JPMorgan Chase I was really pleased. Great, I thought. I will have my guy on the inside. It was a big disappointment.

Not that he wasn’t helpful. He was just very good at his job. I would go to him excited about a story that wasn’t great for his employer and come away just as excited about the story that he wanted me to write.

He also had this great skill… you would ask him about something awkward and he’d say: “I really shouldn’t be telling you this, this has got to stay between the two of us”….and then he would tell you something that sounded really interesting, inside stuff….and you would put the phone down, and think about it for a minute and realise: he didn’t tell me anything. Brilliant.

One of the most remarkable things about David was his talent for friendship, both making friends and keeping them. After writing about Wall Street, David was transferred to the FT in London to work as a news editor. I came back to London a few months later. And it was amazing. He had just arrived but seemed to know everyone.

I would introduce myself to somebody and say I had worked for the FT and they would say “oh, you must know David Wells,” in the same tone I imagine someone might say “oh, you must know Mick Jagger”.

He slipped into London life with remarkable ease looking more comfortable than most of the natives on the cricket pitch or in the ponds on Hampstead Heath. And very quickly he was as much an expert on where to get a good cocktail in Belsize Park as on the Upper East Side. There were few people more fun to go for a drink with than David.

He worked very hard keeping up with friends, as another FT colleague Peter Thal Larsen recalls. “What I didn’t realise was how many people he was staying in touch with. I think lots of us thought we had a close relationship with him because we were in touch so often – but he was doing this with loads of us. It’s a miracle he got anything else done.”

David was extraordinarily generous with colleagues, the ultimate team player, and was a great mentor to younger journalists. One of those he took under his wing was James Fontanella-Khan, now the FT’s US deals editor, who talks movingly about how much David meant to him and how much he will miss him. “What I loved the most about David was his curiosity and openness,” he says. “David represented the best of that special kind of global American.”

Of course the most important people in his life were his family, especially his wife Tanya and daughters Marin and Violet. He was immensely proud of them and would talk about them constantly.

But he made countless people feel they too were really special to him and he has left a Texas-sized hole in my life and so many others. Few of us realised how many people knew and loved him until he was gone. The outpouring was really extraordinary.

When David and I worked together we had this rule that it was fine to end a feature piece with a quote but it had to be a good quote from a good name and ideally one that summed it all up.

So I hope he would think this is OK. It is from one of the world’s most respected business leaders, who David greatly admired, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan.

“David joined our communications team straight out of journalism. This is a tricky transition for many, but he showed us the same big heart and drive and talent he brought to journalism, and he excelled from day one.”

Lucas van Praag

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, and loved ones…

I’m honored to say a few words in celebration of the life of our dear friend David. Honored, and more than a little challenged. It’s no easy feat to encapsulate the spirit of someone who lived life so fully — and with such vibrancy and passion — but I’ll give it my best shot.

David made many, many, long-lasting friendships, a fact that’s underscored by the number of people here today. You all knew him as a force of nature — a Texan through and through, with a heart as big as the Lone Star State itself.

David had a way with words that brought even the most mundane stories to life for his readers. He had an incredible ability to transform words into vivid narratives — stories that captivated and informed. But, as a skilled reporter, he didn’t just cover a story, he got to the heart of the matter, interrogated the actors and the decision-makers, laying bare the issues for readers to consider. His curious mind and intellectual rigor left an indelible mark on everyone who had the privilege to read his work.

When David turned to editing, it wasn’t just another job for him — it was a calling. He saw potential in others’ words and wielded his editorial prowess with a mix of finesse and humor — transforming rough drafts into polished gems — all while mentoring and guiding those around him with unwavering patience and wisdom. Even now, I can sense the presence of his editor’s pen on this piece, suggesting — firmly — ways in which it could be made it much better.

If his knack for editing was powerful, his knack for sound advice was even more inspiring. Colleagues and clients sought his counsel, not just because of his professional acumen but because of his genuine care and understanding. David was that compass in a storm — because — while others were being buffeted around in it — he was able to look beyond, offering guidance with a twinkle in his eye and a Texan charm that could make even the toughest of dilemmas seem manageable.

David’s love for his family was unparalleled. He adored his wife Tanya — and daughters Marin and Violet — with a fervor that was palpable to anyone in his presence. To him, they were his magnum opus — his greatest work — one filled with love, laughter, and endless cherished moments.

David’s professional journey wasn’t confined to the Texas Hill Country – – Houston – – or the canyons of New York City. Nearly twenty years ago, he and Tanya ventured across the Atlantic to London — and a job at the Financial Times.

FT colleague and old friend, James Lamont (who unfortunately couldn’t be here today) shared the story about a decisive moment when he knew he simply had to hire David as the Deputy World News Editor. He was standing outside a teashop in Midhurst and had just taken a call from David. As they talked, James looked up at a blue plaque on the wall — celebrating the fact that the author — H.G. Wells — had lived there. James took this as an auspicious sign from the gods that David’s appointment was simply meant to be. My guess is he thought they were related.

David took to the job like a duck to water. Arriving in London, he immediately set about immersing himself in the affairs of nations and the rich tapestry of British life.

Of all the cultural interests our dearly beloved Texan could have pursued, David chose the quintessentially English sport of cricket — introduced to it by some wags at work. While history is silent on David’s prowess at the gentleman’s game, I have to say that the thought of this tall Texan – swinging wildly at a speeding red leather ball – with a willow bat – on a village green – fills me with admiration and horror in equal measure — fearing for fellow players and spectators alike.

In his zest for British life, David took a swing at other wild pursuits, like swimming on Hampstead Heath in April, much to the consternation of the ducks and his then very small daughter.

Our intrepid Texan loved friends, pubs, lunches, and dinner parties — and exploring the countryside.

I remember him telling me he had completed the MI6 hostile environment training being offered to reporters who had to go to dodgy places. Fortunately, he was not required to put his newly acquired skills to the test for himself.

They did, however, prove to be invaluable for the son of a family friend who, with his girlfriend, was backpacking in eastern Turkey. David got a frantic call from the young man — who told him they had inadvertently wandered into Iran. Not a good place to be — particularly with an American passport! David called the U.S. Embassy in Ankara and arranged for their extraction. It’s a great story but, to me, it simply underscores the extraordinary ability David had to change things for the better.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, while he was living in the UK, the dodgiest place he actually went to was visiting me in Somerset.

London is where I first approached David about pursuing a career in communications. And, as some of you know, when he finally decided to take the plunge, he was not happy when I told him I had a rule about not hiring people who had only ever been journalists. The training he received at JP Morgan was excellent, and I was delighted when he jumped ship to join me at Goldman Sachs.

Beyond his professional accomplishments and talents, David was a friend—and a great one at that. His loyalty was unwavering — his humor infectious — and his presence was a comforting embrace. Whether regaling stories over a pint or simply sharing a quiet moment, his friendship was a treasure that enriched the lives of all of us who were fortunate enough to know him.

So, as we remember David, let’s not dwell on the sorrow of his departure but, rather, the legacy of a life so fully lived. Let’s carry his warmth, his laughter, and his indomitable spirit forward past death and into our lives.

As the poet Dylan Thomas put it – And death shall have no dominion.
Rest easy, dear friend. You are gone but never forgotten.


Fiona Laffan read Matthew 5: 14-16

14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 People do not light a lamp and put it under the bushel basket; rather, they put it on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Caroline Gibson read Psalm 121: 1-8

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills : from whence cometh my help.

2 My help cometh even from the Lord : who hath made heaven and earth.

3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved : and he that keepeth thee will not sleep.

4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel : shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord himself is thy keeper : the Lord is thy defence upon thy right hand;

6 So that the sun shall not burn thee by day : neither the moon by night.

7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil : yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul.

8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and thy coming in : from this time forth for evermore.

Kate Cadette read A Tribute by Marin Wells

Reflecting on a year since my dad, my role model, and confidant passed away, I find it surreal and hard to comprehend how my mom, sister, and I have managed to make it through each day without him. Yet when I really think about it, I understand exactly why going on without him physically there has been difficult, but never impossible.

Since I was a little kid, I have always tried to act just like my dad. Though he may not be here with us, his spirit and legacy are omnipresent in our lives. When I run into a dilemma with friends, desperately wish I had him as an editor for a school essay, or just need some cheering up, I think, what would Dad say? What would he do? These questions don’t bring painful reminders of his absence, but rather prove to me that I have always known the keys to a good life according to David Wells. I just get to apply them on my own now.

My dad captured one of my favourite memories with him back when I was in the first grade. We were in our kitchen in our old apartment on the West side, and it must have been close to my bedtime. I had snuck into his man cave, taken his blazer and University of Texas burnt orange tie, and posed with his blackberry to my ear. This is particularly funny looking back on it because I’m pretty sure Goldman Sachs had to pry my dad’s blackberry out of his hands before he would switch to an iPhone for his work. I remember teasing him and smirking in the photo, echoing his work call tone of voice and trying to make him laugh.

My dad was an amazing parent, but I know from hearing from people like all of you that he made a real impact on every person he worked with. I wish I could call him on his blackberry and tell him how much we all miss him. So, as we head into another year keeping the legacy of my dad, David Wells, alive, I hope we can all find ways to emulate his mentorship, wisdom, and trustworthiness. On every anniversary of losing him, I hope to keep on remembering all the ways I’ve used his lessons and lived in his memory. He will always be the type of person who inspires every person he meets to figuratively “dress up” in his blazer and tie and hope they could be David Wells for a day. Thank you.


The choir & organist of St Bride’s performed the following anthems and songs:

God be in my head – Henry Walford Davies
Ave Maria – Franz Schubert
Sanctus & Benedictus from Missa brevis in D – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Gloria in excelsis Deo – Antonio Vivaldi
Concerto in A minor, 1st movement BWV 593 – Antonio Vivaldi arr. J S Bach


Dear Lord and Father
Immortal, invisible
The Lord’s my shepherd
Guide me, O thou great redeemer

congregation sitting for service


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