Milwaukee loses two well known community figures, James ‘Catfish’ Gladney and Lenard ‘Lenny’ Wells

March 26, 2020

James “Catfish” Gladney

James “Catfish” Gladney

James Gladney, better known as “Catfish,” was a Milwaukee native who graduated from North Division High School.

On September 1, 1987 James “Catfish” Gladney became the proud owner of Catfish Lounge located on the corner of Teutonia and Nash. The location has never changed and neither has the tradition of celebrating family, fun and good times. Catfish Lounge has been a staple in the city of Milwaukee for more than 30 years. The patrons are loyal and know that they can count on Catfish for a good time, some good food and many good laughs. James ran the lounge with the help of his wife, Jamie.

James has spent many years as a mentor to other young business owners and young men and women throughout his community, highlighting the true value of hard work, dedication and commitment. He believed that if you want something in life you have to work hard to get it, a motto he truly lives by. The Gladney’s also celebrated 57 years of marriage in August.

James was an active supporter of the North Division Alumni Association and North Division Athletic Hall of Fame, often hosting fundraising events for them at the Catfish Lounge.

James was also a well known Milwaukee Bucks fan. He was a season ticket holder for 46 years and had only missed one game from their incredible 2019 season at Fiserv Forum. In an interview with WISN Channel 12, James said his favorite memories (of the Bucks) are from the 2001 season, when the team was one win away from the NBA finals.

Lenard “Lenny” Wells

Lenard Wells, 69, died, Saturday, March 21, 2020 after being hospitalized for several days after complaining of shortness of breath. Wells also suffered from underlying health conditions prior to contracting the coronavirus. Lenard was in Milwaukee visiting family when he contracted the coronavirus.

He spent 27 years on the Milwaukee Police Department, where he worked tirelessly to bring racial equity to the ranks as president of the League of Martin, an association for African American officers.

During his tenure, the League of Martin sued to make sure promotions and assignments were fair.

“His leadership impacted the lives of several MPD officers in a positive way well after his retirement. He was a mentor to many members in our agency and our community and he will be greatly missed. We send our condolences to his family during this difficult time,” the department said.

Lenard was a criminal justice instructor at the University of Memphis.

“He was out there fighting for equality for men and women of color, or women in general. Lenny was out in the forefront and a lot of people went on to have successful and long careers because of the contributions of Lenny Wells,” Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas said.

Lenard received his PhD in Leadership, Learning, and Service from Cardinal Stritch University, according to his LinkedIn profile.

His son described his father as “a great man.”

Lenard leaves behind his wife, Corene Wells, and son.

Funeral services for both men are currently pending.

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