Robert H Bell Sr
September 18, 1927 - October 20, 2013
Robert Henry Bell Sr (Bob, Gooey, Curley, Dad, Grandpa, Great-Grandpa) has started the next part of the "journey of life". He left us in the morning on October 20, 2013. He left peacefully, with his wife and two of his seven children nearby.
He started life in Newton, Iowa on the 18th of September, 1927. His early years were spent with his grandparents Jesse and Gen Gowin, where he picked up the nickname "Gooey" (a spin on Gowin, he really wasn't gooey). He always spoke highly of his grandparents and gave a lot of credit to them for the man he became - and for that we thank them too. Unfortunately, there isn't enough space here to give those who didn't know him a full picture of this remarkable man's 86 years on this earth. So, as a token, we offer a glimpse of the man we love via a story he had told us time and again - a story that tells volumes about his character, his commitment and his ability to love.
It was the fall of 1944 and World War II
was still raging when he turned 17, so like many other young men, he enlisted. He joined the Navy and was trained as a Corpsman. While awaiting orders at Farragut NTS in Idaho, he used to take the Liberty Train over to Spokane, Washington to go roller-skating with friends - that is where he met the love of his life, Billie. As the story was told, he was minding his own business when this pretty young girl skated up to him and asked him to "save ladies choice". The minute he saw her he knew there was something special about her (besides the fact that she was a looker), so he said yes! They only went on that one face-to-face date (skating and then a stop at an ice-cream parlor before he had to return to the base), but once they were able to exchange addresses, they wrote volumes of letters to each other. As their friendship grew, they continued to write even though "Curley" (that was how she knew him at first) was reassigned to Camp Adair, Oregon and then to the Bremerton Navy Hospital in Washington. Scroll forward to the spring of 1945; the war was still raging, the prospect of an extended separation was looming and they were in love, so they did the only smart thing two teenagers in love could do; Billie told her parents she was going to visit a cousin in Portland and went to see Curley instead. On the 22nd of April 1945 they were married in a quiet, very low budget ceremony. And that is how they started their life together: no expectation of support, next to nothing of physical value and an unknown future. What they did have was more love and commitment than anyone can imagine - the feelings and emotions they shared in those letters created a bond that carried them thru the next 68 years; thru two more wars (Korea and Vietnam) with deployments in-country that kept them apart for a year at a time, thru successes and disappointments, thru jubilation at the births of their seven children and thru the extreme sorrow that comes with the loss of loved ones.
Throughout his life he was a proud military man and hard worker. His family came first and his love for his wife never wavered. Many times throughout his life he worked more than one job to make sure his family was taken of. He taught us that doing right may not always be the easiest path, but is always the correct path. He was passionate about his beliefs and instilled that passion in his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And despite a myriad of health issues that attacked him throughout his life, he was always able to muster a smile or happy dance just to make someone else smile.
Bob is survived by his wife, Billie; his seven children; two brothers; a sister; ten grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and a large extended family.
There will be a casual service at 1 PM at the First United Methodist Church, MICAH building, 680 State Street, Salem, Oregon on Saturday the 26th of October. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Willamette Valley Hospice or your favorite Veteran's organization in his name.