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Dr William Yancy Bell

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Dr William Yancy Bell

  • Birth 23 Feb 1887 Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA
  • Death 10 Apr 1962 Durham, Durham County, North Carolina, USA
  • Burial South Boston, Halifax County, Virginia, USA
  • Memorial ID 34062899

Bishop William Yancy Bell, born to Rev. John H. and Cordelia (McCoy) Bell February 23, 1887 in Memphis TN, departed this life April 10, 1962, at Duke Hospital, Durham, NC. He married Annabelle Compton (deceased) in 1913 and to this union were born three children - William Yancey, Jr., Bernice M. and Grace C. In 1947 he married Ruby May Hall of Newton, GA and to this union were born two daughters - Esther Mae and Beverly Ann. Bishop Bell received his public school education in Memphis TN and graduated from Lane College, Jackson, TN. His graduate work included study at Northwestern University (A.M. degree); Garrett Biblical Institute (B.D.), and Yale University School of Divinity (Ph.D.). He is the author of "The Al-Mutawakkil of as-Suyuti', his Yale dissertation, and is listed in Who's Who in America. In 1919, after a period of U. S. Army Chaplaincy in World War I, he organized a CME Church in NYC (Williams Institutional) to help meet the needs of the vast number of Negroes migrating north. He served as pastor nine years. The Church is located in the heart of Harlem, occupying an entire block front with a 3,000 seat temple of worship, a Christian Youth Center, and an education building. Dr. Bell formerly held the position of professor of New Testament Interpretation at Gammon Theological Seminary and professor of Old Testament Interpretation at Howard University. In a fruitful ministry as pastor of Mt. Olive CME Church in Memphis, Dr. Bell was elected the twentieth Bishop of the CME Church in 1938 at Hot Springs, Ark. During his 24 years of the episcopacy, he presided over the conferences in Georgia and Florida, Ohio, and the Seventh Episcopal District, which now comprises New England, the Northeastern seaboard states and the Carolinas. He was a former trustee of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA and a life member of the NAACP. From September 1961 death, Bishop Bell served without financial compensation as pastor of Ebenezer CME Church, South Boston, VA. At his death, he was giving leadership to a significant evangelistic, educational, and building program--an extension of his dream to complete the erection of an interdenominational Christian shrine, where presently twenty life-size murals depicting the fall of man and the life of Christ frame a three acre lake. A small log Chapel is in the center of the murals, and those in trouble or seeking an inner peace are free to visit the shrine and the Chapel at any time of day or night. Bishop often journeyed there to talk with our Lord, meditate and pray. The murals were painted by the Rev. L. H. Portlock, now of Miami, Florida. Bishop is survived by his beloved wife, Ruby; two sisters – Beulah Morris and Mabel Wirt of NY; son - William Y. Bell, Jr., Berkley, CA; four daughters - Grace Fitzgerald, NY; Bernice Just, DC; Esther Mae (9) and Beverly Ann (4) of the home; five grandchildren, other relatives and a host of friends throughout the church and nation. He was the 1st South Boston Residential Bishop, Ebenezer CME CHURCH. Services: April 17, 1962 at Ebenezer and Mt. Olive Baptist Churches, South Boston, VA.


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  • Created by: Barb Watkins
  • Added: 21 Feb 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 34062899
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dr William Yancy Bell (23 Feb 1887–10 Apr 1962), Find A Grave Memorial no. 34062899, citing Rose Garden Cemetery, South Boston, Halifax County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Barb Watkins (contributor 46978486) .