Gloria Flathmann Bell
Gloria Flathmann Bell, DDS, departed this earth on Sunday, December 21, 2014. She was 88 years old. Gloria was born in Charleston, SC, the only child of Bertha Corin and Edward Sperry Flathmann. Her father died suddenly when she was 13. His death served to focus Gloria's attention on the health care as a career. Gloria completed high school with top honors by the age of 16 and then attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC to study chemistry. At age of 18 she moved on to Emory University School of Dentistry in Atlanta, eventually graduating 3rd in her class as a 22-year old. She earned Board Certifications in GA, SC, and FL. In 1949 Gloria moved to Panama City, FL and began her professional career interning with Dr. Spencer Fields. She also became the vice-president of Bay County Dental Society.
In 1950 Gloria met Lawrence Bell, Sr. on a blind date set up by a mutual friend. The two were married in 1951. A few months following their wedding, Gloria's capabilities were again tested and now at 24, she found herself running Dr. Fields' office as he was called as a reservist to serve in the Korean War. In 1958 Gloria and Lawrence, Sr. moved to Ft. Walton Beach, FL so they would be closer to Lawrence's work at Eglin AFB and Gloria took time off from dentistry to raise their two sons, Lawrence, Jr. and Scott. In 1959 the family packed up again and moved to the Space Coast; Lawrence, Sr. had been transferred to Cape Canaveral to work as an engineer with NASA.
In 1960 the Bell home in Indialantic was built, and in order for Gloria to resume her career, as well as handle her mom-duties, the builder, Pete Echols, incorporated a dental office into one section of the home. The practice grew and thrived. Gloria's passion for dentistry was well-known by other dental professionals, and her skills and chair-side 'southern-lady manners' were appreciated and enjoyed by her patients.
Gloria and Lawrence, Sr. were involved in the community, especially in Boy Scouting and sailing. The two loved traveling, dancing and cheering for Auburn. During the '70's, they would make frequent trips to Auburn to watch Lawrence, Jr. march in the Auburn Band and Scott play basketball. They were also active members at Eastminster Presbyterian Church. In 1992, Lawrence, Sr. passed away and Gloria turned her attention fully to the dental practice with her son Scott, her partner since 1984. Each Friday, she had lunch with Scott and on Sundays was dinner and shopping with Lawrence, Jr. In 1988, with the birth of their first grandchild, Gloria became a devoted grandmother and was christened with the name "Gimmie" by Laura when she was a toddler. The three grandchildren all enjoyed her legendary oatmeal and visited her frequently as they lived in the house next door to hers.
Gloria was recognized as an Honorary Member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Teachers Society and by the American Dental Association as one of the few female dentists who had given 60 years of service to the profession. She is also an Emeritus Staff Member at Holmes Regional Hospital / Health First in Melbourne, FL.
Gloria was predeceased by her husband of 41-years, Lawrence, Sr. and leaves behind her sons, Lawrence, Jr. (Rorie) and Scott (Alison); her three grandchildren, Laura, Davis and Wil, were the light of her life. Gloria had many longtime family members and friends as well as the 'Girls in the Office' who became extended family. Gloria had deep Charleston roots and leaves behind many family members including her beloved cousins, Barbara Weaver and Dolores Riggs.
Visitation will be held at Brownlie-Maxwell Funeral Home in Melbourne, FL from 5 - 7pm on Friday, December 26 with funeral services on Saturday, December 27 at Life's Oasis in Melbourne. Internment shall follow at Florida Memorial Cemetery in Rockledge.
Published in FloridaToday from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26, 2014.