Donald J. Bell, age 71, of 23 Stonebrook Drive, Rome, GA, died early Monday morning, March 14, 2011, at his home following his tough battle against Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). His fight began in September 2010.
Mr. Bell was born in Cumming, Georgia on July 5, 1939, the son of the late Herschel Winton Bell and Leila Grace Tallant Bell.
Donald lived in Baltimore, Maryland as a very young boy. His family then moved to Rome, Georgia where he grew up and lived the rest of his life. He attended Elm Street Elementary and graduated from Rome High School in 1957. He then attended Oklahoma State University and graduated from Southern Tech with an AS degree in architecture. He attended the Georgia Institute of Real Estate, the Realtors Institute and the Insurance Institute of Georgia Association of Independent Insurance Agents. He became a Georgia Licensed Real Estate Appraiser in 1993. He also served in the U.S. Army after high school and then in the Army Reserves during his early years of marriage.
He first worked as a draftsman at GA Kraft and then later began his career in the real estate business. He took great joy in helping others find their dream home. Donald was the first realtor in the Northwest Georgia area to receive the G.R.I. designation, and he also helped to create the Multi-Listing Service in Rome. He first went to work with Doss Realty Company in 1965 and then later with Wilkerson and Nixon, Real Estate and Insurance in 1972. He became co-owner of Nixon-Bell Real Estate and Insurance, Inc. in 1980 with childhood friend, Dan Nixon. (They were born ten hours apart and lived four houses from each other on Oakland Avenue during their childhood years.) They were partners for more than 30 years.
In 2004, Donald went to work with Hardy Realty and continued working there until he was diagnosed with AML in September. During his years as a real estate agent, he won many awards such as Realtor of the Year and held many leadership positions serving as the Secretary, Vice President and President of the Greater Rome Board of Realtors. In December of 2010 he was honored as an inductee into the Greater Rome Board of Realtors Hall of Fame. Colleagues described him as a man of integrity, character and a true gentleman in the real estate business. He was also secretary and treasurer of Farmers-Cooperative Association for many years.
Mr. Bell was an active member of Calvary Baptist Church serving as Chairman of Trustees, Chairman of Deacons and Chairman of Finance. Most of all he served Christ in everything he did always putting others above himself. Donald was an active part of his community as well. He was a member of the Cherokee Lodge 66, F & AM, Yaarab Shrine Temple, the Rome Shrine Club, Southeastern Shrine Clown Association, and the Rome Red Devils serving as a Shrine Clown for many years. His clown character was known as the "Purple Policeman", and he rode a tiny motorcycle in the parades. He was also an active endowment member of the National Rifle Association.
Donald spent his life enjoying each day with love and laughter. He was everyone's friend and had the ability to make you feel like you were his best friend. He was known for his contagious personality and uniquely comical "Donald-isms." He was very proud of his family and loved spending time with them most of all. He was a devoted Georgia Bulldog fan and frequently barked through the entire football season.
He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of forty-six years, Nancy Lee Boswell Bell of Rome; three adoring daughters, Lora Lee Bell of Smyrna, Dee Anna Bell (Champ) Rittenhouse of Atlanta, and Julie Winton Bell (Luke) Elrod of Smyrna. He had three grandchildren, Anna Grace Rittenhouse and Lucy Belle and Jesse Luke Elrod. He is also survived by his brother-in-law, Ernie Jeffrey Boswell, a niece Stacy Lee Cates and great-nephew William Matteson Cates along with many cousins.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church of Rome with the Rev. Frank G. Wood officiating. Graveside service and interment will follow at the Oaknoll Memorial Gardens.
Mr. Bell will lie in state at Calvary Baptist Church on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 where the family will receive friends from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. and at other hours the family may be contacted at the Bell home.
The following gentleman have been asked to serve as pallbearers and are requested to meet at Calvary Baptist Church by 1:30 p.m.: Jeff Boswell, Will Cates, Charles Duke, Bo McKenzie, Dan Nixon and Randy Nobles. The family would also like to request the following honorary pallbearers to serve: Larry Barkley, Sue Jones and fellow real estate associates at Hardy Realty.
Flowers will be accepted or memorial contributions may be made to Calvary Baptist Church, 101 Broadus Road, Rome, Georgia 30161.
A special request has been made by the family to celebrate Donald's life by sharing your funny story, special memory or favorite character trait about him. Please write it on paper and bring with you to the services. They can also be mailed to his home.