|Birth: ||Jun. 12, 1911|
|Death: ||Apr. 21, 2005|
"Nig"-still cookin on the front burner...
Don Bell, 93, of Byron died April 21, 2005, with his family by his side.
Born on June 12, 1911, he had a love of horses and the open range, and everything he did in life kept him close to both.
He was raised in a family that bred horses for the U.S. Cavalry. He entered his first rodeo at the age of 12 and spent 17 years as a rodeo contestant. He worked as a farrier and spent years as a big game hunting guide working for outfitters Max Wild, Henry and Francis Purvis and Skip Glomb.
A showman at heart, he was a part of the Clyde Miller Wild West Show, the Bill King Rodeo Co. and Rufus Rollins Wild West Show. He worked on movie sets and had small parts in the Western movies "Shane" and "Indian Love Call."
Mr. Bell competed in rough stock events through 1942. In 1943, he served in World War II until being honorably discharged in 1945. He served in the 29th Infantry Division, one of the first units to land on Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy. Mr. Bell earned two Purple Hearts and four Bronze Stars and would wear one of the bullets that struck him for the remainder of his life.
It may have been his encounter with WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle that led him to writing after the war. The rider-turned-writer began pecking on a Smith-Corona typewriter much like the one Pyle left behind in the foxhole he and Mr. Bell fled while under artillery attack.
Mr. Bell retrieved the black typewriter from the foxhole and years later donated it to the Albuquerque, N.M., museum, where it remains on display today.
In his retirement, Mr. Bell's love of writing never faded. He continued to write about his life and times while serving as a rodeo historian for the Rodeo Historical Society and the Cowboy Hall of Fame. He was original gold card member No. 868 of the Turtle Association, the first professional rodeo association. He also was an honorary life card holder of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
His writing career spanned 30 years, and he was still being published at age 93. His articles have appeared in Western Horseman, Guideposts Magazine, The Ketchpen - the official publication of the Rodeo Historical Society, True West and Good Ol' Days. At age 78 he published a book of poetry, "Reflections of A Cowboy."
Some of his most treasured and weathered belongings like his saddle, lariat, boots and hat are at rest at the Smithsonian Institution's American History Museum in Washington, D.C. In 2000 these artifacts, on loan from the Smithsonian, as well as a life-sized image of Mr. Bell, went on display at the Origins All Sports Museum located at The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.
In addition to his achievements, it was for his never-ending love of life and positive attitude he shared with so many that he will be most remembered. Despite his battle with cancer, he lived for every moment and told stories from his hospital bed to everyone who visited him.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years Elvira, daughters Donna Bell of Billings, Vickie Bell Abbott of Meeteetse and Bernadette Bell of Albuquerque, and granddaughter Sarah Dawn Mauthe.
Respecting Mr. Bell's wishes of no service, the family is honoring his work by establishing The Don Bell Memorial Rodeo Scholarship fund for a Northwest College student. Contributions may be made to the First National Bank of Powell, Box No. 907, Powell, 82435.
Created by: famhistrylvr
Record added: Nov 26, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 23117731