Robert Bell

Robert Bell

1923 - 2018

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Obituary of Robert Bell

Robert Bell, a resident of Manhattan Beach, passed away on July 26, 2018 at the age of 94 at his home, surrounded by his daughter, Dana Garity, granddaughters Caroline and Kimberly and son-in-law Paul.  He was born on December 17, 1923 in Pittsburg, Texas to the late Willie Robert Williams and Joe Will Bell.  The youngest of four brothers, Robert is preceded in death by his loving wife of 61 years, Barbara Ruth Duckett and his daughter Linda Ann Frey.  Robert is survived by his two other granddaughters, Jennifer Frey Stockburger (Sean Stockburger), of Bellingham, WA, and Karen Frey (Matt Evans) of Sutton, MA and four great grandchildren Violet, Owen, Lila and Isabelle. 

From age 14, Robert worked 40-hour weeks to help support his family. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the University of Texas, but was drafted into the US Army and assigned to the 740th Tank Battalion, 1st Army, Special Tank Division, Daredevils. Soon after, he married the love of his life, Barbara, on January 19, 1943. After training, he was shipped to England and eventually landed with his unit at Utah Beach in July, 1944.  Robert fought at the Battle of the Bulge, receiving a Purple Heart for his valor and sacrifice and the Presidential Unit Citation for service for his role in turning the tide at the Battle of the Bulge and stopping the advance of the German Army.

Returning to Texas following the war, Robert attended South Texas College at night while launching his 43-year career with American Can Company (now Citigroup). He started with the company in Houston in 1946 as an accounting clerk in the Can Closing Machine Division, and rose to General Auditor and Senior Vice President at the headquarters in Greenwich, CT. One of his most proud accomplishments was writing the Standards of Corporate Conduct, which set the gold standard for Fortune 500 corporate and management ethics. Robert is remembered by his colleagues for his sharp mind, generosity and personal integrity. A former colleague wrote, “Robert is a vital, animated person with an intensity of purpose. He is articulate in a very unpretentious manner and he pushes hard for things he believes in. His spontaneity is quickly apparent. He is loyal to individuals and the institutions he serves.  Robert has natural leadership qualities and knows how to motivate others and how to set a good example.”

While living in Madison, NJ and later New Canaan, CT, Robert was a leader in the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association, serving as Vice Chairman. His calling was to provide leadership and financial support to new churches in the greater New York area. Starting with one church in Manhattan, Robert was instrumental in the growth and expansion of MNYBA which now includes 240 churches in 20 languages serving the needs of the people throughout the city. Robert also founded a non-profit corporation called “Total Operations Neighborhood Environment” whose purpose was to inspire and assist families in low income areas by purchasing and revitalizing multi-family housing with recreational facilities, day care centers and resident chaplains. 

After thirty years in the metropolitan NY area, Robert and Barbara retired to Irving, Texas. They enjoyed returning to their home state, being close to the Bell and Duckett families and making many friends at the Valley Ranch Baptist Church.

In 2000, Robert and Barbara moved to Irvine, California to be closer to their two daughters, Dana Garity and Linda Frey.  After his wife Barbara and daughter Linda passed away, Robert moved to Manhattan Beach to be near Dana and her family. In his remaining years he continued his favorite pastimes of traveling, gardening, reading, talking daily with his granddaughters and visiting with new and old friends.

Robert was a man of action, optimism, faith and devotion to family. He was a loving husband and father and an extraordinary grandfather. He was a role model, constant champion and inspiration to all he met.

A celebration of life will be held at Valley Ranch Baptist Church, Coppell, Texas on Saturday, September 8, 2018. Burial will be at Ebenezer Cemetery, Camp County, Texas on Sunday, September 9, 2018.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the East 7th Street Baptist Church in lower Manhattan, known as Graffiti Church, at graffitichurch.org/all-giving.