Herman B. Wells

“Indiana University Santa”
Bloomington, Indiana
1902 – 2000

International Santa Claus Hall of Fame – December 2023

Without any question, Mr. Herman B Wells is the most honored and decorated person to ever portray Santa Claus. He is known around the world for many amazing things he accomplished in his life but wearing the Santa suit was one of his favorite.

He was president at Indiana University from 1937 to 1962 and chancellor from 1962 to 2000. In 1948 he donned the suit for the very first time for the Association of Women Students Christmas Eve party. This started a career that spanned over 50 years.

Wells was not only Santa for the faculty and students at IU, but he also traveled to Indianapolis to be Santa for the children at Riley Children’s Hospital. Patients, staff, the Riley Cheer Guild and Riley Memorial Association all welcomed the rotund, jovial Santa with open arms. For Wells, the holidays at Riley were a chance to shed his role as his role as president.

In 1990, the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research was established. Until 1997, Herman B Wells was listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the Person holding the most Honorary Degrees.