Marina Bell (1953 - 2016)

  • "Dear Keith and Olga, Marina's beauty, grace and..."
  • "Many fond memories from 1990s of Marina assisting U.S. Fish..."
    - Peter Ward
  • "We were very saddened to hear of the loss of Marina. We..."
  • "Marina was an inspiration and role model to women every..."
    - Kim Erickson
  • "I am thinking of the entire family."
    - Jeanne

Marina was born on Sept. 14, 1953, in Baku, Azerbaijan. She spent her early childhood in Odessa, Ukraine, before moving to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, where she grew up in the care of her maternal grandparents. As a child Marina excelled in math, science and the arts, pursuing ballet and competitive fencing through high school. In 1971, she traveled to Moscow, where her mother was living, to take entrance exams at the Institute of Foreign Languages (now Moscow State Linguistic University). After graduating from the Institute with honors, Marina was assigned a post as a medical translator between British and Russian doctors in Bihar, India, where she lived for two years. She relished her time in India, learning a personal yoga practice that stayed with her for the rest of her life, and befriending a neighborhood cobra. From 1978 to 1990, Marina worked as a writer, editor, journalist, interpreter and announcer for Radio Moscow. Working in the English-language World Service division, Marina won a BBC award for her flagship program Folk Box, which explored traditional music from across the territories and cultures that comprised the Soviet Union. She traveled to London to receive the prize and subsequently toured the USA several times as a narrator and singer with the Dmitry Pokrovsky Ensemble. One of these tours brought Marina to Alaska, where she eventually immigrated with her daughter, Olga, in 1991. On Feb. 14, 1995, Marina married Keith Bell after many years of friendship and courtship. The couple celebrated their union with ceremonies in Costa Rica, where Keith spent much of his childhood, and in Anchorage, Alaska. Keith formally adopted Olga in 1998, and the Bells made their home in Anchorage until 2012, when Keith retired from his law practice and moved with Marina to Asheville, N.C. Marina's American career focused on written, consecutive and simultaneous translation for many federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Attorneys Office, the E.P.A., the F.A.A., the Coast Guard and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. She specialized in aviation, biology, conservation, diplomacy and military talks, translating most recently for President Obama during a 2015 visit to Alaska. Throughout her professional and personal life, Marina played a huge role in building mutual understanding, trust and humor between Russians and Americans. She was a wellspring of love and care to her friends and family, inspiring everyone with her beautiful smile, her superb cooking, her boundless curiosity and love of life. Marina died painlessly from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm on Nov. 8, 2016. She was 63 and in otherwise perfect health. She is survived by her daughter, Olga; her husband, Keith; and her three stepchildren, Brooks, Sarah and Scott. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Anchorage Museum on Feb. 17, 2017, at 7 p.m. As Marina was passionate about conservation, memorial donations may be made to the World Wildlife Fund here:
Published in Anchorage Daily News on Feb. 7, 2017
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