CANANDAIGUA – Virginia Bell died Saturday, July 18, 2020 at home. She was 86 years old.
A Catholic committal service was held in the Pavilion in Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery at 2:00 p.m. on Friday (July 24). A Celebration Of Life will be held at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN, 38105. The family has requested no floral arrangements.
Virginia Bell had many gifts; she was an amazing human being. She was the devoted wife and best friend of 66 years to Eugene Bell, who predeceased her in 2017. Theirs was a love match from the start. They had three children - Christopher, Lisa and Sandra Bell as well as a devoted "son of the heart" Joseph Benevides, the child of Virginia's best friend Stella Roy. All were blessed and lucky to have her in their lives. Their spouses, Susannah, Serge and Mary were too. And there were four wonderful grandchildren, Jai, Tracy, Ben and Drew. All are making their grandmother proud.
Virginia had a vast circle of devoted relatives and friends. Especially close to her heart were the families of Maryellen and George Finlayson, Peggy and Joe Lebitz, Frankie and Barbara Caminito, John Finn, and Jane Bell Gibson. Also close to her heart were Honey and Stan Wolfson, and Lilian and Jean-Luc Couture. Long-time friends and neighbors included the Norma and Eli Cohen family, Barbara McLean and her parents Nellie and Robbie, the families of Jan and George North, Dianne and Frank Kriney, to name just a few.
Virginia – or "Ginny" as everyone called her – was born April 4, 1934 in New York City. She was the only child of Mary and Arthur Collins and the beloved niece of Margaret and Richie Bosticco. Virginia was a genuine New Yorker, and the city remained one of her favorite places for her entire life. She loved its energy – especially the nightclubs and theatres. It was in NYC that she met the love of her life: Eugene Bell, a handsome young US Navy veteran and a hard-working man of many skills and great ambition. They wed in November 1951 and began to build a successful family life in the excitement of post-war America.
Their focus was family – and advancing in the world. They started out in a small brownstone apartment in "Hell's Kitchen" – NYC's West side – and through hard work and smart decisions, ascended the property ladder to live in Paramus and Ringwood, N.J., and the beautiful Finger Lakes community of Canandaigua. They renovated constantly, adding unique value where ever they lived. Virginia was a proud homeowner, and her beautiful homes reflected her and Eugene's vision and hard work.
The first impression anybody had of Virginia was that she was beautiful: movie star, take-your-breathe-away, world-class gorgeous. But she had a much more powerful gift than beauty – Ginny was brilliant. She had the talent to do anything, at anytime, anywhere, and there were hand-knit sweaters and artistic ceramics to prove it!
After her children were grown, Ginny attained her RN, BSN in her 30's. This launched a brilliant multi-decade career in health care. She was an ER and trauma nurse, then pivoted to psychiatric nursing and supervision at New Jersey's Hackensack Medical Centre. After she retired from full-time nursing, she worked part-time as a nursing supervisor at Canandaigua's Thompson Hospital, then public health nurse at the local County Jail; where she relished her work with both officers and residents. And she never stopped learning; to the end, she was a prodigious reader and student of the human condition.
Along with beauty and brains, Ginny had a positively magnetic personality and gift for making friends. Her circle of influence was vast.
Ginny was a "Tiger Mom" before anybody had even heard the term. When the local Girl Scout leader retired, she volunteered to take over the troop – and it became the only Girl Scout troop that went to Broadway shows, even meeting Debbie Reynolds in person! She gave her kids had a great start in life: private schools, lessons in everything from swimming to dancing to tennis to piano. Front row tickets to Broadway shows. Vacations at the beach. Trips to Disney World, the Caribbean and Europe.
Ginny loved Christmas beyond words. It was the biggest day of the year at the Bell household. They would be so exhausted from opening packages that that they took breaks.
However, there was one thing Ginny loved more than anyone and everything else: Eugene Bell. Theirs was a passion and friendship that spanned a lifetime. It is comforting now to know they are together again. She was never-ever far from Gene's heart and he never far from hers.
Her last few years were not easy as failing health took its toll. There's a special place in heaven for those who helped her every day. Thank you to her amazing and compassionate caregivers, Hannah Potter, Fran Morse, Amanda Trickey, Cathy Kozlowski, and Rose Stanton.
Thank you, Virginia. You enriched so many people in ways that will last forever.