Robert "Bob" N. Bell , one of the city's best known newspaper reporters whose 40-plus year-career at the Indianapolis Star and News chronicled the careers of a generation of Hoosier political figures, died peacefully in his home on September 29, 2012. Bob was born on March 24, 1939.
Born the second oldest of 11 children to an Indianapolis policeman, Bob enrolled in St. Meinrad, A Roman Catholic seminary, following his graduation from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic grade school.
After spending five years at St Meinrad, Bob left the seminary, entered and was graduated from Marian College in 1962.
Bob's newspaper career began in 1956 when he was hired as a copy messenger. His editors soon permitted him to help write obituaries and re-write press releases. When there was an opening, they hired him as a cub reporter and sent him down to the old police headquarters where he wrote stories ranging from tragedy to triumph.
When Sen. Richard G. Lugar was elected Indianapolis mayor, Bob was responsible for much of the day to day coverage of his administration. He also covered much of the administration of Mayor William H. Hudnut. Leaving city government reporting, Bob was assigned to state government covering governors Otis R. Bowen and Robert D. Orr. He covered eight sessions of the Indiana General Assembly and served as chief of the Star's legislative bureau.
In addition, he covered the U.S. District Courts, served as an assistant city editor and wrote a Sunday column on stamp collecting.
Bob was known for his extensive knowledge of city and state politics and was on a first name basis with governors, mayors and Republican and Democratic political party regulars ranging from powerful chairmen to precinct workers. Young reporters often sought his advice on the history of the city and its citizens.
The Indianapolis Press Club honored Bob by twice electing him president and tapping him to chair the club's annual Gridiron dinner where state and local political figures are lampooned. He had also served as president of Local 70, The Newspaper Guild.
Bob earned numerous journalism awards including citations from the United Press International for a series detailing irregularities and abuses in the federal Small Business Administration loan program. He was also a recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash Award in 1983, which is the highest honor the Governor of Indiana bestows. It is a personal tribute usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor.
In 1986, Bob joined other reporters in a two month investigation which listed, for the first time, the total compensation for the members of the legislature.
He was a former member of the Catholic Social Services board of directors. He was a member and usher of Christ the King Catholic Church. He was a frequent traveler to the Outer Banks in North Carolina with his family and delivered a dozen dough nuts to his grandchildren every Saturday morning since 1991.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 51 years, Patricia Ann Griffo Bell, children Ann (Brian) Collins, Maureen (Vince) Mifsud, Robert (Maren) Bell III, brothers James and Michael Bell, sisters Barbara, Ann and Maureen Bell, Martha Jean Young, Kathy Crabill, Karen VanBenthuysen, grandchildren Sean, Kevin and Erin Collins, Skylar and Aidan Mifsud and Liam Bell. Robert was preceded in death by his parents Robert Noble and Martha A. (Heffernan) Bell, brother Stephen Bell and sister Janet Brownlee.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be Thursday, October 4 at Christ the King Catholic Church at 11 am. Visitation will be from 4 - 8 pm on Wednesday, October 3 at Feeney-Hornak Keystone Mortuary. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Elizabeth/Coleman Pregnancy and Adoption Services.