Russell "Gene" Bell – 81, of San Angelo, Texas went to be with the Lord on August 31, 2013.
Gene was born on December 18, 1931 in Jefferson County, Alabama to Russell Anderson Bell and Gladys Costello Bell. He was the first born and big brother to Earl Bell of Florida. Gene spent his youth in Jefferson County, graduating from McAdory High School in 1951. Following high school, Gene entered the United States Air Force serving in the Korean War as Airman First Class from 1951 – 1954.
After returning from the war, he met the love of his life in Pecos, Texas, Jessie Lee Smith. They married in Carlsbad, New Mexico on April 17, 1955. Gene worked at various occupations before he and Jessie moved to San Angelo where they would make a home for their family. Gene had already done in his short 25 years what many don't achieve over a life time. However, this was only the beginning of a life defined by service, leadership, and commitment to others. Upon their arrival in San Angelo, Gene joined the San Angelo Fire Department where he began his 34 year career of outstanding service to the City of San Angelo and surrounding areas. During his career, Gene moved quickly up the ranks from fire fighter to Assistant Fire Chief. While at the fire department, Gene served in several other fire related capacities. He was chair or co-chair on the Officer Development Committee, Tom Green County Rural Fire Prevention District, and the Local Emergency Planning Committee appointed by the County Judge and Governor of Texas. As Gene continued his work with the fire department and committee appointments, he realized the value education played in assuring him the expertise necessary for his designated field of work. He was constant in his educational quest, participating in numerous seminars and trainings, as well as earning an Associate Degree in Applied Science. Because of his diligence, he earned the position of instructor for the SAFD, Lubbock and Abilene Fire Schools, Howard College, and most importantly Texas A & M University's Texas Fire Training School. Fire departments from all over the State of Texas continue to come to the A & M training school. During Gene's 25 year tenure there, he took great pride in helping fellow fire fighters serve their constituents with the highest level of expertise possible.
Outside of work, Gene's greatest love was his family and church. He was a member of and attended Immanuel Baptist Church for approximately 40 years. He served as a Sunday school director and Deacon for most of that time. He loved his church family and missed them very much in his last few months.
Gene was a loving husband, dad, and granddad. He leaves behind his wife of 58 years and two sons, Gary Bell and wife, Cindy, of Flower Mound, Texas and Mike Bell and wife, Shelly, of Carlsbad, Texas. He is also survived by five grandchildren. Two granddaughters, Erin and Emily Bell of Fort Worth, were the apple of his eye for 30 years. No matter where or what the girls were participating in, you could bet "Granddaddy" wasn't far behind watching his two "sweeties" with pride. During that time, Gene and Jessie were blessed with three more wonderful grandchildren whom they dearly love; Aaron, Adam, and Kaylah Kukulka. Gene took great joy in getting to know his new grandchildren and being a part of their lives when possible. Other survivors include his very special nephews Brian Bell of Alabama, Fred and wife Cheryl Bell of Henderson, Nevada, and his sweet great niece Caroline Bell.
Gene's family would like to thank Dr. Barnett and Dr. Harvey for the compassionate care they provided Gene. A heartfelt thanks goes to the staff at House of Hope for their gentle, loving care and constant support. We also want to send a special thank you to Debbie Davis who made herself available to Gene at a moment's notice and understood how to gently ease the sadness and burdens during a long and difficult time.
A visitation will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Monday, September 2, 2013 at Johnson's Funeral Home. The funeral service will be at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at Immanuel Baptist Church with burial to follow in Lawnhaven Memorial Gardens.
The family asks that donations be made in Gene's memory to the House of Hope at Baptist Memorial or Immanuel Baptist Church in lieu of flowers.