Robert J. Bell

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  • "A friend, a mentor as I started my teaching career at..."
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    - Venses Sanchez
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Robert J. (Coach) Bell

Robert J. Bell, affectionately known simply as "Coach" to his many friends, colleagues and former students in Estancia (and elsewhere) passed away quietly on November 5, 2017, as the result of complications from surgery to repair a broken leg suffered in a fall on September 14, 2017.

Coach Bell was born in Hollis, Oklahoma, on April 12, 1942, and attended schools in Hollis. He graduated from Hollis High School in 1960 and subsequently graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma University.

He was predeceased by his parents Opal and Coy Bell and his wife Margaret.

Survivors include cousins Jim Bell (Doris) and family of Hamlin, Texas; Larry Bell (Linda) and family of Lawton, Oklahoma; Danny Tice (Judith) and family of Lubbock, Texas; niece Tanna Corral (Joseph) and family of McIntosh; and nephew LeRoy Vaughn (Tracy) and family of Gresham, Oregon. He also survived by long-time friend and companion Virginia L. Ferrera of Albuquerque, beloved dogs Smoky Joe and Kimbo, and admired cats Cracker and Sophie.

Coach Bell arrived in Estancia in 1969 and began teaching civics and drivers' education and coaching football and track at Estancia High School, where he remained for twenty-five years. His football team won one AA state football championship and one state runner-up title; his teams were in the state semi-finals for five years and were district champions for ten years. He was elected as coach for the North-South football game on three occasions and awarded the gold medal for over 100 career wins in football. At the time of his retirement in 1995, the Estancia football field was renamed Bob Bell Field. In track, the Estancia teams won three state championships, two runner-up titles, one third place, and eleven district championships during his tenure as coach.

In addition to his coaching, Coach Bell was beloved friend and mentor to most (if not all ) of his students and team members. As one recently noted on the facebook page regarding his death, "Never settle for mediocre" was a phrase I'd often hear from Coach Bell...You've touched so many lives with your wisdom. You will be missed by many. Your life was far from mediocre." Another posted, "Thanks, Coach, for all you invested in all the kids you influenced."

Burial and a graveside service have taken place at a family plot in Hollis, Oklahoma. A memorial service will be held at the Estancia Middle School gym on Friday, November 17th, at 3:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, those who wish may send a memorial contributin to Wells Fargo Bank, Robert J. Bell Memorial Scholarship c/o Estancia Alumni Association, PO Box 88, Estancia, NM 87016.

Published in Albuquerque Journal on Nov. 12, 2017