John Wesley Bell, father of former Birmingham mayor William A. Bell Sr., has passed. He was 95.
Mr. Bell was born Nov. 3, 1922 in Birmingham, Alabama to the late Willie Bell and Ceola Brown Bell Addison. He was the second son born to this loving union and accepted Christ at an early age. His older brother, William Ealy and step-brother, Ed Henry Addison, are both deceased.
Mr. Bell completed his elementary and secondary education in the Birmingham Public School System where he graduated from Parker Industrial High School. He earned his educational certification from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with an emphasis in Vocational Education.
He was united in holy matrimony to Luvenia Ellington Bell Little (deceased). To this union, one daughter, Marsha Dianne Bell Little (Jimmy), and two sons, the Honorable William A. Bell, Sr. (Sharon), Michael H. Bell, Sr. (Gwendolyn) were born. Mr. Bell later married Eva Flowers Bell and had one step-daughter, Yvette Green.
During World War II, he enlisted in the United States Army and served as Sgt. First Class with Supply Unit 3456 Third Army under the Command of General George S. Patton and the European Theater in Belgium and France. He received the World War II Victory Medal, American Service Medal, European African Middle Eastern Service Medal and four Bronze Stars.
Sgt. Bell also fought in the Korean Conflict. Sgt. Bell re-enlisted in the U. S. Army in 1945 and was honorably discharged in 1948. After being a part of the greatest generation and the war to end all wars, Sgt. Bell returned home to Birmingham and found employment at Southern Railroad.
During the day he took classes to receive training in brick masonry. After several years as a brick mason, he was called upon to teach the trade he had mastered and was offered a job as masonry instructor at Gadsden State Technical College. Subsequently he was offered a teaching position in the Trade School at Lawson State Junior College. He was later named Chairman of Lawson State’s Vocational Education Department where he retired after 23 years of sacrifice and service to his country, his community and to the citizens of Alabama.
He was involved in many civic and social organizations including the Birmingham Boating and Fishing Club, the Owls, the Family Group and the Courtesy Guild at Saint John AME Church. He was a member of various professional and educational organizations that included the Alabama Retired Teacher’s Association, and the Alabama Education Association.
He also received recognition and awards from the National Buffalo Soldiers Association and was the recipient of the Boy Scouts of Central Alabama American Values Award and the Veterans Day Memorial Service Award in 2016.
Mr. Bell was an avid fisherman, hunter and outdoorsmen who loved to go to his farm in Selma.
Mr. Bell joined New Mount Zion Baptist Church under the pastorate of Reverend John H. Mason and continued to serve as a proud member and deacon under the leadership of Reverend Cedric Small. Due to failing health, Mr. Bell later resided at Colonel Robert L. Howard Veteran’s Home in Pell City until his death.
In addition to his children, he leaves to mourn his five grandchildren, Felecia Renee Merriweather, Judge William A. Bell Jr. (Dr. Emily Bell); Michael H. Bell Jr. (Denise Bell); Jillian J. Bell (fiance, Dr. Steven Wood); Dr. Marcus Bell Sr. Atty. Kimberly Bell) and six great-grandchildren: Bianca Walker, Gabrielle Walker, William “Trey” Bell, Ethan M. Bell, Marcus H. Bell and Matthew H. Bell.
He also leaves to mourn his passing many nephews, nieces, cousins, and a host of special relatives, friends and loving neighbors.
Funeral services for Mr. Bell will be held on Friday, March 23 at 1 p.m. at New Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 1886 Spaulding Ishkooda Road, Birmingham, AL 35211.
Story has been corrected on 9/22/2018 at 9:01 p.m. to give Mr. Bell’s correct age.