August 21, 2013

Feature obituary: Alfred Bell, 97, hardworking man, devoted to family

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH – Alfred Bell, a reserve officer for the Scarborough Police Department in the 1950s and a school bus driver for the town, died Saturday. He was 97.

click image to enlarge

Alfred Bell

Family photo

PASSAGES

Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.

Mr. Bell was remembered by his family as a genuine, humble and driven man, who worked hard to provide a good life for his family.

He was a devoted husband to Dorothy Bell for 73 years. She died on April 24. The couple raised four children and a relative.

In their early years, the Bells lived on a farm in Yarmouth. He worked several jobs, including a stint at the South Portland shipyard where Liberty Ships were built during World War II. In 1945, he was drafted into the Army.

After returning from he war, Mr. Bell lost the farm, but made a new life for his family in Scarborough. In the late 1940s, Mr. Bell began building the house where he and his wife raised their family.

Bruce Bell, the oldest of his children, recalled the strength and determination his father possessed. As he was building the house, a wall collapsed and he "jacked the wall back into position," his son said.

In 1952, Mr. Bell began working for the Scarborough School Department as a bus driver and custodian for the former Dunstan Elementary School. He held the position for 10 years.

His son, who rode on his father's school bus, remembered the drill.

"When he pulled up to a bus stop or the school, the girls got on first, then the boys. The girls sat on one side of the bus and the boys on the other. It was a level of discipline and respect. He always knew what was going on on the bus."

From the mid- to late-1950s, Mr. Bell worked for the Scarborough Police Department as a reserve officer assigned to Scarborough Downs.

Police Chief Robert Moulton said Tuesday that Bell was well-known in town. "He was one of those folks that everyone knew. He was always pleasant. He always had a story or something to talk about," Moulton said.

Mr. Bell also worked as a manager of Sani-Clean Distributors for 26 years. A highlight of his career was helping to build the Big 20 Bowling Center. His son said his father worked as many as six jobs at one time to support the family.

"He did whatever it took to make sure (we) were taken care of," Bruce Bell said. "He was always going, always doing. I knew he was capable, but I didn't realize it to the extent. He accomplished so much. He did so much to take care of mother."

His daughter, Linda Bell Ryder of Owings, Md., echoed her brother's sentiments.

"We are blown away at what my father was able to do," Ryder said. "It's overwhelming to look at a man who lived a simple life and always had simple jobs and was able to do so much. ... It's really remarkable when we look at ourselves. We're all pretty humbled."

Mr. Bell kept extensive gardens at his homes in Scarborough and Florida, where he and his wife lived in the winter. He was known for putting extra produce at the foot of his driveway for neighbors to take.

"(I'll miss) his sense of presence, which exuded stalwartness, genuineness, humility and love for his family ... characteristics to live by (and) for me to emulate," his daughter said.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com

 

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