|Birth: ||Jan. 19, 1908|
|Death: ||Jun. 2, 1998|
Lela Marie, the fifth child of Frank and Sylvia Bell, was born near Newtonia, Newton County, Missouri, on January 19, 1908.
Like her siblings she attended Mountain Grove School. When she was about 10, she started earning a little extra spending money by helping out at the school. Each day she swept the floor and built a fire in the stove so the room would be warm before the other students arrived. Her sister, Anna Ruth, who was three years younger, sometimes went along to help.
Lela was 12 years old when she started taking music lessons from her aunt, Eva Bell. The following item was published in the Miner Missourian on July 9, 1920: "Mountain Grove - Miss Lela Bell has begun taking music lessons from Miss Eva Bell who has just returned from Hardin College. We wish Miss Lela success." That December her parents moved to Newtonia.
On January 19, 1923, Lela celebrated her 15th birthday. In the spring, she finished the first year of high school in Newtonia. Later that year, she attended a birthday party given in honor of her friend, Thelma Chapman. News about the party was published in The Neosho Times on July 19, 1923: "Last Tuesday at 6 o'clock Miss Thelma Chapman's young girl friends surprised her by coming with filled baskets and reminding her it was her birthday. Those who enjoyed the fine covered dish supper on the brook lawn were: Misses Lela Bell, Lizzie and Thelma Neil, Jewel Brown, Lillie Garner, Anna Pearson, Marie Malda and Robeni Lacy, Nellie Chapman and Naomi McKee."
In August 1923, the family moved to Joplin. That fall, Lela and Darrell enrolled in Joplin high. Lela was a sophomore, and Darrell was a senior. News about Lela's family was published in The Neosho Times on October 22, 1925: "Newtonia - Mrs. Will Nance had as dinner guests Sunday Mrs. Roberts and two sons of Neosho. Mrs. and Mrs. Jim Clary and daughter, Dorothy Louise, of Joplin, Mrs. Lasister of Neosho, Mrs. Sylvia Bell and Lela, Ruth and Paul Bell of Joplin." Bertha Clary and Mary Nance were her aunts, her mother's sisters.
Lela went to Neosho to spend the weekend with her sister, Edna, and her aunt, Maggie West, on Friday, January 15, 1926. This was four days before her 18th birthday, and they no doubt had an early birthday celebration. News about her visit was published in the Miner & Mechanic on January 22, 1926: "Miss Lela Bell of Joplin spent last week end in Neosho with her sister, Mrs. Wm. Buehler, and aunt, Mrs. John West."
Lela graduated from Joplin High School in 1927. That fall she and her sister, Helen, enrolled in Baylor University at Belton, Texas. In January, their sister, Edna, enrolled in Baylor to attend the winter term with them.
Lela's friend, Thelma Chapman, referred to her as "a Newtonia high school girl," although she had only been there during her freshman year. News about Lela was published in the Miner & Mechanic on January 20, 1928: "Newtonia - Miss Lela Marie Bell, a Newtonia high school girl, writes that she is delighted with her school work in Belton, Tex. Her sister, Edna, is there also." More news about her academic pursuit was published in the Neosho Times on January 26, 1928: "Newtonia - Miss Lela Bell, one of Newtonia's girls who is attending school in Belton, Kansas (Texas), writes home that she is enjoying the work very much. Her sister, Miss Helen, is also in Belton."
On June 7, 1928, news about Lela and Edna was published in the Neosho Times: "Locals - Mrs. William Buehler returned Tuesday from the south where she has been visiting in Dallas, Ft. Worth, and other points after having graduated from Baylor College at Belton, Tex. Miss Lela Marie Bell, a graduate of the 1927 class of Joplin high school has returned from Belton, Tex., where she was a student in Baylor college taking social science as her major. Miss Bell is a sister of Mrs. Edna Buehler who was with her during the winter term."
Lela met and married Emerson Jonah Ruble in Chicago on June 22, 1932. Emerson, born on December 28, 1903, was the only son of Albert Edward and Dora Ruble. He was named Jonah in honor of his father's brother. Dora had been married before and had children by her first husband. After he died, she had married Albert who worked as a carpenter to support his new family. He died in Deer Creek, Tazewell County, Illinois, on July 25, 1919. On April 15, 1930, Emerson, age 26, was boarding at the Plaisance Hotel on 1541 E. 60th Street in Chicago and had a job as a structural engineer on the railroad.
Lela's daughter, Sylvia Kay (Ruble) Coulombe, has provided an excellent biography about her mother, and a tribute to her parent's lives. She said that her mother's first name was originally spelled Leila. When she needed a passport in the early 1950's, she applied for a birth certificate but learned the courthouse and its records had been destroyed in a fire. It was at this time she changed the spelling to Lela. However, in later years she regretted making the change.
Sylvia writes, "For more than thirty years, Lela played bridge regularly with her friends. ‘The Girls,' as they were known, consisted of Lela, Lila, Lola, and Lula. This was always a source of amusement for their friends and families.
After finishing one year at Baylor, Lela moved to Chicago, and lived for a short time with her sister, Edna, who was pursuing a PhD in social work. At this time she started her career as an executive secretary in Chicago's Loop. She married Emerson Jonah Ruble, an architectural and structural engineer, on June 22, 1932. Their marriage took place in the Rockefeller Chapel on the University of Chicago campus. In the summer of 1942, they moved from an apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago to a brand new home in the Edgebrook neighborhood.
That September they adopted a daughter, who was only seven days old. Lela proudly named her new daughter Sylvia, in honor of her mother. When they received the telegram telling them I was available, but that I must be picked up as soon as possible, my mother made rapid preparations. Because my father worked for the Association of American Railroads, he was able to get my mother a round-trip ticket to Kansas City, not an easy task because most of the trains were reserved for moving our troops across country during World War II. Baby supplies, such as bottles and formula, were in short supply, and she was given only two bottles for the entire trip back to Chicago. Unknown to my mother, I had an allergy to the wool in my baby clothes, which caused a red, itchy rash on my skin, and I also had colic on the train, so that I screamed the entire overnight trip back to Chicago, causing great distress to her, and keeping the troops in the Pullman car awake. I am sure she wondered just what she had gotten herself in for!
My mother was typical of the mothers in her era who did not have a career or work outside the home. In those days children walked home for lunch and back to school for the afternoon session. The Bell sisters were excellent cooks, and my mother was also, although she complained that her mother had never taught her any French recipes. She also bemoaned the fact that her mother and sisters stopped speaking French when their husbands complained (they probably thought their wives were talking about them), and therefore she did not learn to speak it as a child when it would have been so easy.
My mother may not have held a job outside the home, but she was active in volunteer work and belonged to various clubs e.g., Garden Club, Women's Club, Nature Study Club, etc. Because my father's job at that time involved inspecting railroad bridges throughout the country, and, later, speaking at various professional engineering conferences, he had to travel a lot. Often my mother and I accompanied him on these trips. By the time I was ten years old, I had been in all forty-eight states (all we had in those days), every province of Canada and into Mexico. When I was four, we spent six months in Needles, California (before air-conditioning!) while my father was involved in a long-term research project.
I was enrolled in a nursery school on the Navajo reservation in the mornings, and each afternoon the highlight of our day was to cross the street from the hotel and watch the Santa Fe Super Chief when it made a brief stop to take on water, mail, and supplies. A group of Navajos was always on hand to perform one of their dances for the passengers who got off to stretch their legs. That was our entertainment before television!
In 1955 we moved to a home designed by my father in the southwestern Chicago suburb, Hinsdale, Illinois. Again, my mother continued to do volunteer work and joined the usual clubs. Both my parents enjoyed gardening, and we always had beautiful flowers and a vegetable garden, which they had started as a Victory Garden during WWII. Unfortunately, we could never bring any of the flowers into the house because my mother was allergic to the perfume in flowers.
My mother remained in the Hinsdale house for seven years after my father died in 1985 but found it harder to do the work necessary to maintain the house and yard, although my younger son, Matthew, had moved to the area after graduating from the University of Illinois in 1990. Matt looked after her but could see that it was time for her to give up the house and move into a retirement community. She continued to shovel her own driveway until she was eighty-five and moved. She is my inspiration, and it is necessary to have that inspiration, because I live in Maine where snow is what we deal with in winter!
She chose a lovely complex, Friendship Village, in Schaumburg, Illinois, which was just five minutes from Matt's office and much easier for him to look after her affairs and take her shopping. Although there are 800 apartments in the complex, my mother made many new friends and enjoyed the activities offered. She was in reasonably good health except for her eyes (glaucoma and macular degeneration) until she fell and broke her hip when she was eighty-eight. She had very little gray hair and looked twenty years younger than her age. She was very proud of that.
Until she broke her hip she used to preface remarks with, ‘When I get old . . .' After her hip surgery, she started saying, ‘I guess I am old now . . .' Although she was able to use a walker after surgery, she began to fail and rapidly developed senile dementia, Alzheimer's, similar to that of my father's in the 1980's. When my father had to go into the nursing home, my mother had visited him every day from 10am to 4pm, for four years until his death, feeding him his lunch and sitting with him. She often said that he would have done it for her if the roles were reversed. After her surgery and rehabilitation, it became evident that she could no longer continue to live independently in her own apartment, nor could she be in the assisted living section. She entered the nursing home section and died of congestive heart failure two years later. She is buried next to my father in the Ruble family plot in Glendale Cemetery in Washington, Tazewell County, Illinois, which is near the central Illinois town of Deer Creek where my father grew up."
The above information is from my book titled "The Family of James and Caroline Bell."
Jacob Franklin Bell (1867 - 1941)
Sylvia Mathey Bell (1879 - 1954)
Emerson Ruble (1903 - 1986)
Edna Beatrice Bell Hackney (1899 - 1966)*
Albert Franklin Bell (1901 - 1928)*
Helen Evadna Bell Page (1903 - 1999)*
Darrell Leland Bell (1905 - 1972)*
Lela Marie Bell Ruble (1908 - 1998)
Ann Bell McAllister (1911 - 1985)*
Paul Vincent Bell (1917 - 1961)*
Plot: Block 7, Lot 45, Plot C, Grave 2
Created by: Virginia Brown
Record added: May 04, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 36731307