Richmond R. Bell
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Richmond Randolph Bell, U.S. Army, WWII (95), beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, died peacefully in his sleep at his second home in Norwich, Vermont on June 14, 2020 of a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma. Rich was born on March 22, 1925 in the birthing room in his family home in Wellfleet, MA., delivered by his father Dr. Clarence John Bell, who was the town doctor. Like his father, Rich was thought of fondly as 'the heart and soul of Wellfleet.' His great character, calm demeanor, fairness to all and his service to his town and country were his hallmarks. He will be fondly remembered for his good-natured jokes, quick-witted puns and for regaling family and friends with vivid stories, often featuring youthful adventures and Wellfleet history. His love for and encyclopedic knowledge of antique Ford automobiles and license plates is as much a defining feature as his twinkling blue eyes. It was a treasured family tradition for Rich to drive his antique cars in Wellfleet Independence Day parades, loaded with his children, then later his grandchildren. Richs love of Model As began at age 3, when his father took delivery of a new Model A Ford at 3 PM on September 7, 1928. Little Richmond would stand on the seat and hold on to the dashboard so he could look out the window while bouncing down the dirt roads. When he grew up he wanted one too, but his father made him wait until he was 12. Then, with $10.00 (yes, ten) saved from delivering newspapers, he bought his first Model A in Chatham and paid .50 for delivery. For his 16th birthday, his father gave him a 1930 coupe with a rumble seat which he owned up until a few days before his death. Many cherished family memories were made with that coupe. At age 19, not long after his father died, Rich was drafted as a Private into the U. S. Army during World War II. He served in the 29th infantry Division that landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy in Operation Overlord. After 19 months he was discharged as a Corporal. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious achievement in ground operations in the Normandy campaign and 3 Purple Hearts for wounds received in combat in St. Lo and the Vire area, both in France, and Baesweiler, Germany. Last summer the Consulate General of France, in Boston, presented Rich with the prestigious French Legion of Honor, the highest French decoration awarded for service to France. After the war, Rich earned a Bachelors degree from Boston University, married and had his family. He was a Lower Cape Ambulance driver, and later joined the volunteer Wellfleet Fire Department and Rescue Squad, where he was a fireman for nearly 40 years and the deputy chief for over 20 years. Once, while driving a patient to the hospital in the ambulance, he came upon 7 deer in the middle of Route 6 | with lights flashing and sirens blaring, he drove straight through the herd and missed them all. After years as an insurance investigator for Retail Credit Company, in the early 1970s Rich turned his antique car hobby into a mail order business called Vintage Ford Center, which he operated out of his fathers old doctors office on Main Street. He called himself a born merchant and playing 'store' was a favorite childhood game. Customers would call and describe a funny sound their car was making, Rich would diagnose the ailment from the wheeze, clunk or hiss, and mail out the parts the same day. Customers often explained that they planned their summer vacations around a pilgrimage to Richs car parts store, to feed their hobby and drink in the lore. Rich was past commander of the American Legion Post in Wellfleet. Like his father, he was a member of the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank Board of Trustees for 40 years, and a member of the Board of Corporators for 20 years, retiring in the past few weeks. He was a member of the Nauset school committee, served on the town finance committee, the Republican town committee, and was the town election warden for many years. In addition, Rich was a member of the Wellfleet Historical Society & a founding member of the Cape Cod Antique Car Club, as well as a member of the South Shore Antique Car Club, two Model A Restorers Clubs (in Norwich and Cape Cod) and the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association. Rich is pre-deceased by first wife & mother of his 5 children, Jeanne (Richardson), his second wife, Patricia (Hillman Jones) & his daughter Kristina Staneika. He is survived by his wife of 12 years, Gail (Bourgeois) whose devotion &loving care enabled him to stay at home throughout his illness, as well as his children Andrea Slade, Richmond Randy Bell, John Bell & Faith Lee and their spouses, 11 grandchildren & 3 great-grandchildren. From Gails family, Rich is survived by 4 step-children, Michelle Edmunds, Leslie Gannon, who lovingly stayed by Richs bedside at night providing nursing care, 'Trey' Gannon, and Lindsey Carmichael and their spouses, 10 step-grandchildren and 1 step-great grandchild. A public celebration of his life will be held at the Wellfleet Historical Society and Museum at a date to be determined after COVID-19 guidelines allow large gatherings. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Richs name may be made to the Wellfleet Firefighters Relief Assoc., P. O Box 602 Wellfleet, MA 02667, the Wellfleet Historical Society & Museum at wellfleethistoricalsociety.org, or Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center at D-H/Giesel Office of Development, 1 Medical Ctr Dr. HB 7070, Lebanon, NH 03756-0001

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Published in Wicked Local Cape Cod from Jun. 23 to Jul. 3, 2020.
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2 entries
July 26, 2020
This wonderful tribute to Richmond's life was shared on the Clan Bell group on Facebook this morning and has already received 60 reactions and 17 comments. His story has touched many people there. Our deepest condolences to his family. Mike Bell, Group Admin
Mike Bell
July 26, 2020
Thank you for your service. What an amazing life you led. RIP Mr. Bell. Jana Williams Rouse - Clan Bell
Jana Rouse
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