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Dr. John Peay Bell

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BELL, DR. JOHN PEAY, lifelong Kentuckian, born in Hopkinsville, died March 2, 2008 at the age of 91. A graduate of the University of Kentucky, John attended medical school at Vanderbilt University. When World War II interrupted, he served in the north Atlantic on the USS Ranger. A fondness for the Navy remained with him for the duration of his life. This fondness occasionally manifested itself in unusual ways; on vacations he assigned his children and their friends to starboard and port watches for household duties. In 1944, he returned to Kentucky on leave and married Nancy Ballantine. When the war ended, John completed his medical education, came to Louisville in 1949, and for 35 years maintained a private practice in psychiatry. During and after his private practice, he engaged in clinical teaching in the University of Louisville's department of psychiatry. Throughout his career John was an advocate for the availability of psychiatric services to the underserved, including unmarried mothers, those with disabilities, and the economically disenfranchised. He served on the Jefferson County Board of Health for many years and the Louisville Board of Education prior to merger of the city and county school systems. In those and quieter ways, John touched the lives of many Kentuckians. John's professional and personal lives were a reflection of his insatiable curiosity about and love of life. His compass allowed him to always find the good in humanity. He viewed his life as a charmed one in that he did what he loved and loved what he did. He was preceded in death by his son, John Jr. and his son-in-law, Tom McKune. Along with his wife Nancy Bell, John is survived by his daughter, Jane McKune; sons and daughters-in-law, Walter and Pam Bell, David and Lora Bell and Victor and Kristin Bell; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. He was close to his many nieces and nephews as well as a number of young friends, whom he loved as his own. Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at Pearson's, 149 Breckenridge Lane. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Highland Presbyterian Church, 1011 Cherokee Road. In lieu of flowers memorial gifts may be made to Wellspring, 1382 S. Third, Louisville KY 40208 or St. John Center, 700 E. Muhammad Ali Blvd., Louisville, KY 40202. The Bell family wishes to express their overwhelming gratitude to the staff at Jefferson Manor for the warmth, concern, and care they gave in these past difficult days.
Published in The Courier-Journal on Mar. 4, 2008
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