The heir to a fortune earned by Fiesta brand tableware has left $9 million to The Nature Conservancy to support its conservation efforts in West Virginia and around the world.

It could be the largest conservation bequest ever made in West Virginia.

Robert Wells of Newell, Hancock County, died in July 2007 at the age of 80.

The organization says he chose to make the multi-million bequest to the Nature Conservancy because of its global reach and proven record of conservation accomplishments.

Wells spent his life in the management of The Homer Laughlin China Company, a business his family founded in 1897.

The bulk of his gift will be spent on the conservancy's international work, which involves land conservation projects in all 50 states and 30 countries.

Twenty percent of the $9 million ($1.8 million) will spent in West Virginia to protect freshwater fisheries.

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