July 21, 1913-Dec. 9, 2012|
Janet Ingalls Bell, of Alma, Michigan, who worked as a market researcher, a policewoman, a schoolteacher and a social worker, but who might be best remembered as a farm wife and a mother to six children, died on December 9, 2012. She was 99. Mrs. Bell died about a month after the death of her sister, Ruth, 101, of Birmingham, Michigan.
Mrs. Bell moved to Alma after her 1947 marriage to Joseph Bell, a farmer who had recently completed a tour of duty as a sergeant with the 152nd Army Airborne in postwar Japan. She had been working as a policewoman in Detroit when a friend arranged a blind date with Mr. Bell. She recalled later that serving as a policewoman was a little different back then. She said that if there had ever been cause for her to use a gun, she might have been in trouble since it would have been hard finding it in the bottom of her purse.
Janet Ingalls Bell was born to Eleanor and Roger Ingalls on July 21, 1913 in Concord, MA, in a home not far from Walden Pond of Thoreau fame. The Ingalls family moved to nearby Lexington not long after Janet's birth. After graduating with honors from Tufts College in 1936, she worked as a market researcher in Cleveland, Ohio, for the Daniel Starch Company of New York. Ruth, also a Tufts graduate, was then working for the same company in its Indianapolis office. Decades later, Ruth wrote of that period: "We bought a car together, a Ford for $600 (brand new!) and shared it, Janet for a few weeks in Cleveland, Ruth ditto in Indianapolis. Even through the Depression, Janet has been my loving sister and lifetime friend."
Janet came to Detroit in the late 1930s to work in the home lighting division of the Detroit Edison power company. She joined the Detroit Police Department in the early 1940's, and her work included cases involving neglected children.
While raising five boys and a daughter as her husband farmed in Alma - first on Alger Road, and then on West Harrison Road - she managed to find time to work as a Gratiot County social worker, and as a teacher at St. Mary's Elementary School.
Her husband, Joseph, preceded her in death in 1996.
She is survived by five sons, Gregory, of Alma, James, of Lansing, MI, Mark, of East Tawas, MI, Paul, of Baton Rouge, LA, and Stephen of Maplewood, NJ; and one daughter, Nancy Thomas, of San Antonio, TX; and many grandchildren, great grandchildren; and nieces and nephews. A brother, Philip, died in 1973. A Funeral Mass will be held Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 11 a.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Alma with Fr. Jim Bessert officiating. Interment will be in Riverside Cemetery, Alma. Visitation will be held Wednesday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at Lux-Moody-Wolfel Funeral Home with a 7:30 p.m. Prayer Service with Deacon John Cremin officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Mary's Catholic School.
To view Janet's obituary online or to leave a condolence for the family please visit
Published in The Morning Sun on Dec. 11, 2012