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Richard Harding Bell

Oct 8, 2009

Richard H. Bell passed away in Fort Myers on Oct. 2 of natural causes after a happy and rewarding life of 95 years.

Dick was born in Kansas City, Kansas on Sept. 27, 1914 to Albert L. and Emiline Harding Bell. Growing up, he lived in Kansas City, Salisbury, N.C., Boston, Chicago and Milwaukee. He had a brother, Kendrick, and a sister, Marion Bell Hyde. He graduated from Milwaukee State Teachers College in 1936 with a BA in Education. He received a Masters in Education from The Ohio State University.

Dick married Cynthia May Kyper of Milwaukee on July 11, 1936. Their union lasted for 38 years before she preceded him in passing on July 3, 1974. They had five children: Betsy (married Jayant Ganatra), Susan (married David Lang), Rick (married Paulise Rossetti), Gretchen (married Ray Stegmeier and Jon Sues) and Phoebe (married Ted Ingraham). Together, they had a total of 15 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren for Dick and Cynthia.

Dick began his career in education at 22 years old as Headmaster and seventh and eighth grade teacher at Winnebago Day School in Neenah, Wis. He was Principal of Barrington Elementary School in Upper Arlington, Ohio from 1943 until 1945 and Religious Education Director at First Community Church in Marble Cliff, Ohio from 1949 until 1953.

After serving as Ohio Sales Manager for the Encyclopedia Britannica, Dick joined his friend Garry C. Myers, Jr. as the National Sales Manager for Highlights For Children Magazine in 1956. He became President in 1963 and then Chairman of the Board in 1980 and served as Chairman until he retired to Sanibel in the 1990s.

For most of his adult life he lived in Grandview Heights, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio where he served on the Grandview Heights Board of Education and was an active member of Boulevard Presbyterian Church. He was inducted into the Direct Selling Association’s Hall of Fame in 1985. He was honored by the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee with the “Special Life Achievement Award” in 1998.

In addition, he was a member of the following Boards: Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement of Columbus, Ohio Council on Economic Education, Senior Citizens Placement Bureau, Direct Selling Association (DSA), Direct Selling Education Foundation and Alcas Cutlery. He was an active member of the Columbus Chapter of the Kiwanis Club.

He loved barbequing chicken on Sunday afternoons, taking his family on camping vacations, the close relationships he had with his many friends in Columbus and his active retirement years in Sanibel with his wife, Mary Lee Bell, a longtime resident of Sanibel, whom he met at the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ and married in 1991. They lived on Sanibel together until moving to Fort Myers in 1998. They were active members of the church where they met and Dick served on the selection committee which found and brought Reverend Rand Niehoff to the church. Dick loved their travels together which took them to many interesting places around the world.

Dick and Mary were devoted to each other until his passing. Mary and her two daughters, Christine Gault and Mary Jo Gault, and Dick’s own children were there at the end to comfort him as he passed painlessly in his sleep.

He is survived by his wife Mary, his five children and their spouses, a niece and a nephew, 15 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren (as of this writing) and Mary’s two daughters, two granddaughters and two grandsons.

He was dedicated to the educational enrichment of each one of the individuals in his family and generous to all. He was deeply loved by each one of us, and will be sincerely missed all the days of our lives. He was respected by all who knew him.

The family would like to acknowledge and thank his caretakers during the past five years of his life who have taken such good care of him around the clock with such positive attitudes and loving attention. Their dedication to his needs enhanced his quality of life immeasurably in his final years, and allowed him to live at home until his passing.

A service will be held in his honor at Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, 2050 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33157 on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 1:30 p.m. A reception in the church will follow from 2 until 3 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in his name may be sent to Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ or Highlights Foundation, 1814 Court Street, Honesdale, PA 18431.