His father was a senior official with the Seaboard Railroad. As a child, Adm. Bell lived in Norfolk and Washington, D.C., graduating from Western High School in Washington. He attended the University of Maryland for one year and then was accepted at the U.S. Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1939. Before U.S. entry into World War II, he served briefly in USS Yorktown and for two years in USS Cole. During World War II, he served in the Pacific in submarines USS Bonita, USS Tinosa and USS Thornback. He made seven war patrols against the Empire of Japan, serving as executive officer of USS Tinosa and USS Thornback, and was awarded two Silver Stars. After World War II, Adm. Bell was executive officer of USS Carp and commanded USS Diodon, as well as Submarine Squadron Five and the attack transport USS Cambria. He attended the Armed Forces Staff College and the National War College and served in the Pentagon as well. His last ship command was of guided missile-cruiser USS Little Rock, flagship of the U.S. 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, in 1963 and 1964. He was selected for flag rank in 1964. As a rear admiral, he commanded Amphibious Group Four in Little Creek, Va.; as a vice admiral, he was director, Navy Program Planning, where he worked closely with then secretary of the Navy John Warner, and then-assistant secretary of the Navy Charles A. Bowsher. Adm. Bell's last Navy assignment was as commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, based in Little Creek. He retired as a vice admiral in 1973. His decorations, in addition to the two Silver Stars from World War II, included the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit. After he left the Navy, he took over the management of Norfolk's Convention and Cultural Center, including the 11,000-seat Scope Coliseum and 2,400-seat Chrysler Hall. He was impresario of the facilities until 1987, hosting such stars as Leslie Caron, Julia Roberts, Howard Keel, Lyle Lovett and Willie Nelson as well as professional basketball and the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. After retiring from Norfolk Scope, he booked entertainment for Portsmouth's Willet Hall for four years. A member of the Naval Academy golf team, he enjoyed golf for most of his life and could shoot his age well into his 80s. He was a longtime Washington Redskins fan who rarely missed a home game. In recent years, Adm. Bell had lived in Virginia Beach and Naples, Fla At the time of his death, he resided at Harbor's Edge retirement home in Norfolk. He was a member of the Princess Anne Country Club.
Thank you for your great service in preserving our country's freedoms. I will honor you in the only way that I can . . . by remembering you always. May you rest in peace knowing that you truly embodied the ideals of "Duty, Honor, Country." -
Charles A. Lewis Added: Feb. 4, 2012