LOUIS M. BELL
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BELL, Louis M. Took his Final Leave on Monday, March 9, in the Morning. And truly, what a long strange trip it was! In the days before computers and the internet turned the newspaper culture upside down and squeezed the profits out of ink and paper businesses, reporters and editors and photographers believed that their profession attracted more than its share of people of idiosyncratic ways who were nonetheless valuable members of the newsroom team. At the Boston Globe from 1955 to 1992, Louis M. Bell, who died in his home at age 84, was the very model of such a newspaperman. A native of Malden, where he again lived during his final years, Mr. Bell had a difficult childhood, as a result of the asthma that kept him from taking deep breaths throughout his life and also kept him out of classrooms with his peers, until the latter years of high school, in his case, Malden High. He often credited his pulmonologist, Dr. Barry Levine, with rescuing him from a short, painful life by using cortisone, still an experimental drug, to turn his life around. With a new lease on life, he enrolled at Northeastern University, and in 1955, signed on with the Globe, as a co-op student. He later enrolled in Suffolk Law School on a part-time basis, but by then newspapering had him hooked and he joined the Globe full-time. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Globe was far from the preeminent daily paper in Boston. In Mr. Bell's early years, he mostly performed clerical tasks at the direction of editors with assumptions attuned to turn-of-the-century journalism. But as the paper turned the corner under new leadership in the mid-'60s, so did Mr. Bell. After an assignment as the daily obituary editor, he joined the Business section as a desk editor. He had found his place in the Globe ecosystem and he stayed there for the next quarter century. Before Google, there was Lou Bell. Other Globe staffers depended on Mr. Bell's substantial knowledge of the world of business, as well as the academic/socio/economic basis for whatever was happening, and sundry facts of all sorts. He knew the history of the businesses and the people who made things go round, and he was good with figures, the gravel of the money markets. But Mr. Bell also brought a special added value to the Globe: He never abided by the workplace adage "Off the clock, out of the building." On workdays, he arrived at 3 p.m. and usually stayed at his post until the last city edition was in the pressroom. Night editors in charge of that edition took off their jackets and took out their pencils when they saw him approaching the news desk at 2 a.m. with a marked-up proof noting errors he had spotted. And Mr. Bell always befriended the young men and women who made the Globe a lively place for most of his years there. He shared the joie de vivre of their lives beyond the newsroom and the sports department and he mourned with them when the losses came way too early, one to war in Vietnam and one to a virus too strong. That was one side of Louis M. Bell, the newspaperman who used an eyeshade and wore suspenders. On the other side was a soulful free spirit who: Gathered a group of young Globe employees into his van (the "Magic Bus") in August 1969 and drove up and onto the farm owned by Max Yasgur in Bethel, New York, where an audience of several hundred thousand had gathered for "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music," more commonly known as the Woodstock Festival. In the aftermath, it was impossible to separate truth from legend of what happened with the Bell Brigade during that event, though "zany" is a word that comes up in all recollections. Used a kid's whistle from his desk in the middle of the room to gain someone's attention or just to celebrate a joke he had just heard. He also had an endless supply of Tootsie Pops for the asking, and was dubbed "a man of parts" for his pockets full of gadgets – from pen-knifes, to first aid kits, to flashlights – to answer any emergency. Was private, even secretive, yet gregarious, with "like family" friends among Globe staffers, proud hillbillies, reggae loving Jamaicans, members of the Boston Caribbean community, and all manner of humanity. Was not religious and never learned Hebrew (due to his childhood hospitalizations), yet attended High Holiday services, often used Yiddish expressions with his family, and contributed generously to Jewish (and other religious and secular) causes. Honored the Catholic faith of some of his closest friends by not eating meat on Fridays during Lent. Was short, with unruly hair and a mustache that made for a matched set. A colleague tells of the time when he and his family and Lou were waiting to be seated at the Stockyard Restaurant in Brighton, and one of three young women standing by the bar yelled out, "Oh, my God, it's Albert Einstein!" and she and her pals came over and gave him big hugs. Mr. Bell was not stunned; he just smiled and nodded affirmatively. Haircuts were almost anathema to Mr. Bell. He had the cuts twice a year: When he was preparing to leave for the Great Smoky Mountains, and in later years, Jamaica, for his annual October sojourn, and when he signed his tax return every April. There is no picture of Mr. Bell with this death notice. He spent most of his life avoiding cameras to the point where he would recruit designated agents at events like weddings to warn him if someone with a camera was approaching. The family keeps faith with him in that spirit. Mr. Bell leaves a devoted family: his niece, Tina Weldai, of Malden, his nephew, Richard Gopen, and his wife, Carol Ginsberg, of Bridgewater, great-nephews Adam Weldai and Matthew Weldai, of Malden. He was predeceased by his parents, Michael Bell and Tillie (Rosenzweig) Bell, and his sister and brother-in-law Rosalie (Bell) Gopen and Kenneth Gopen, all of Malden. Funeral Services for Mr. Bell will be held on Sun., March 15, at Goldman Funeral Chapel, 174 Ferry St., MALDEN, MA at 12 o'clock. Burial will follow at Mishna Cemetery, 232 Fuller St., Everett, MA. Visiting Hours will be held following the Burial at the Weldai residence, 97 Hill St., in Malden, until sundown. For those wishing to honor Mr. Bell's memory, donations can be sent to Combined Jewish Philanthropies, 126 High St., Boston, MA 02110, or to a charity of your choice. Chances are, Mr. Bell contributed to it. For directions or online condolences, go to www.goldmanfc.com


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Published in Boston Globe from Mar. 12 to Mar. 13, 2020.
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6 entries
June 25, 2020
Grief can be so hard, but our special memories help us cope. Remembering you and your loved one today and always.
Lynn Schopf
Acquaintance
March 23, 2020
I met Lou Bell in 2003 when I worked as District Manager, New England, for the Jamaica Tourist Board, an agency of the Government of Jamaica. It was at one of our official functions where our Prime Minister, the Hon Portia Simpson, was the guest of honor of the Boston Jamaican community.

He had a tremendous love of Jamaica (and reggae music) and visited the island every year until his health declined. He was a Jamerican in every sense of the word and often amazed me with his vast knowledge of the island, including its culture and politics. He even subscribed to the Jamaican Weekly Gleaner, the overseas edition of the island's oldest newspaper, to keep up with happenings on the island.

He became a close family friend and visited with us once or twice before my subsequent transfer to Chicago. We kept in touch on a regular basis until his health declined over the past two years. He never forgot our two kids' birthdays and Christmases and would chat with them on a few occasions, especially my son, Genaro, whom he met as a baby when we lived in Boston. He was a gentle, friendly, kind soul and I will miss him immensely.

My condolences to his family and friends and may he Rest In Peace.
Glen Bucknor
March 15, 2020
Louis will be warmly remembered by so many here at Forestdale. My special memory was taking him to Wegman's and how happy he was with his shopping visit. It was a fun trip for me too.. He was a nice man. Sorry for your loss.
Sincerely,
Diana Gorman.
Diana Gorman
March 13, 2020
The pain of losing someone in death is the most devastating pain that one can feel.may the God and father who binds up the broken-hearted, comfort strengthens and soothed all those who mourn.may God sustain the families and friends.my deepest sympathy and condolences to the families during this difficult time of grief and pain.
-GP/LM
March 11, 2020
I wasn't so much a friend of Louie Bell's as I was an admirer. He was an original in so many ways, but it was his sense of humor that was the outstanding hallmark of his great genius. It is said that eccentrics are the ornaments of any culture, and Louie was an ornament like none other. He is gone and his spark no longer brightens our world. I am saddened, but grateful that I was able to enjoy over the years the gift to the world that was Louis M. Bell, a funny, funny man.
kristen Henshaw
Friend
March 11, 2020
I love you, Louis.
Steve Warnick
Friend
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