Chris Bell, the founder and Director of Good Counsel Homes, recently lost his father, Eldridge Russell Bell. Several of the Directors of HVCL knew Russell and his wife Louise.
Below is a tribute to Russ, and you can tell that the apple didn't fall far from the tree.
Eldridge Russell Bell, father of Christopher Bell, founder of Good Counsel homes helping homeless pregnant and parenting mothers and babies, died July 6, 2013 A.D. at the age of 91 in Lawnwood Medical Center, Fort Pierce, FL after a severe stroke.
Christopher Bell would attribute much of the beginning of his work to the inspiration and practical help of his father. Good Counsel has four homes . .. serving thousands of mothers and babies each year through a national helpline . .. etc.
Russell Bell was born May 21, 1922 in Cameron, Texas, the sixth of 9 children conceived by Dora Lee and William Jessie Bell both of Texas. His mother died when he was at the tender age of 9 leaving a lasting impact on his faith in God and that, as his mother said from her deathbed, “I will be watching out for you. Be a good boy.” His widowed father struggled to find work during the depression and young Russell began working in cotton fields and at the local bar and eatery, The Blue Bonnet Cafe.
He achieved local fame as a star football half back during high school. Russell or Red, as he was called by family and friends most of his life, left Texas at about age 18 as a merchant marine for a time; finally taking leave in New York City to join his brother John Vernon. In New York Russell was an amateur boxer fighting and placing in the famous Golden Glove Boxing Tournament in Madison Square Garden.
Soon afterward, Russell was drafted during World War II. Russell met Americo Centocanti of Hudson, NY in the United States Army in Camp Shelby, AL to form a life-long friendship. Russell won the camp boxing tournament and was placed with the Army Officer’s special detail going into the South Pacific including to New Guinea among other islands.
Returning from the war to New York City, he and his brother opened a laundry mat and also began installing and repairing washing machines forming their own company during 1946 aptly named Bell Brothers Service Company.
As a struggling entrepreneur, he was unable to keep his appointed installation of a new washing machine at the Rozzo family home in East Elmhurst, Queens. Calling to apologize about the delay, he was met with fury from the young daughter, Louise, having taken the day off from work in order to translate for her mother who only spoke Italian. During the ensuing telephone conversation Russell quickly thought to say, “You have such a beautiful voice when you’re angry.” He went to the home the following day, was seen as a hard worker by the mother who had him invited to dinner where he met and further apologized to Louise. He became a Roman Catholic and they married less than a year later on February 16, 1947 celebrating their 66th wedding anniversary in Port St. Lucie, FL this year.
Russell is father to four born children: William Bell, Antoinette Witt, Christopher Bell and David Bell. He is grandfather to 18 children and great grandfather to 3 as well as a beloved brother, cousin, uncle and friend of many. He met Cardinal John O’Connor of New York and shook the hand of Pope John Paul II in Rome.
He has been an active member of the Knights of Columbus Alfred E. Smith Council in Elmont, NY for 55 years. He was the recipient of their Knight of the Year Award for his service as well as made a Life Member. During an epidemic of teenage drug abuse in New York, through the Knights, Russell organized numerous teenage dances with his hope, “If I can keep one kid from abusing drugs, it will be all worth it.”
He was a long-time usher at St. Boniface Church, Elmont, NY, a volunteer of their food pantry, a member of the Italian-American Club, a volunteer for Meals-on-Wheels, as well as helper for various other Church and civic organizations throughout his life until very recently when his health prevented him from continuing.
As there are numerous stories of his kindness, joy and peace he shared with many, one recent example freely offered after hearing of his death by the youngest grandchild, who was born without hands or a right leg below the knee, was this: “When I was learning to swim in Florida at the pool near his home, he was on the side cheering me on the whole time as I went back and forth across the pool.”