Surnames and Family Research Forum
Re: William "Big Bill" Bell
In Response To: Re: William "Big Bill" Bell ()
It has been more than a year since I began my search for my Uncle Bill. At last, I have found the obituary that answers all (at least most) of my questions.
Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way.
Published in Fayetteville, North Carolina's
Deceased Name: FORMER FAYETTEVILLE ST. AD BELL DIES
By BRIAN DULAY, STAFF WRITER
Dr. William M. Bell Sr., a former Fayetteville State University Athletic Director who spent 43 years as an educator, administrator and coach, died Friday at Highsmith-Rainey Memorial Hospital. He was 81.
"He was definitely a people person," said his only son, William M. Bell Jr. "That was his emphasis - on people. As a coach, he wanted to win but he stressed education. He stressed fairness."
Bell, of 3301 Barksdale Road, retired from FSU in 1975 after serving as the school's athletic director for six years.
He was a native of Polk County, Ga. Throughout his career, he excelled as a player, coach and educator.
He was the first black football player for Ohio State University, for which he played from 1929 to 1931. He earned All Big Ten and Honorable Mention All-American honors his final season.
Bell coached football at Howard University, Chaflin University and Florida A&M University before he joined the faculty at North Carolina A&T University in 1946.
His duties during a 22-year career at N.C. A&T included football coach, athletic director and professor of physical education.
"That was his baby," said Ike Walker, former basketball coach at E.E. Smith High School and a student of Bell's at N.C. A&T in the 1950s. "He never said "phys. ed." He always said "health and physical education." He wanted it to be a profession."
He treated it as such, organizing physical education departments at several universities and later assisting in the development of Fayetteville's National Youth Sports Program, a summer organization for disadvantaged youths.
"He was very proud of that," his son said.
He received master's (1937) and doctorate (1960) degrees in health and physical education from Ohio State and served on numerous local and national health and physical education committees.
"Dr. Bell is part of a vanishing breed," Walker said. "In all my years with him, I never read or heard of anything shady. That's why I remember him as such a gentleman.
"The man was affable. He was courteous. He was kind. He didn't separate himself from students. I remember him fondly when he was walking the (N.C. A&T) campus and tipping his hat to students."
Earlier this year, he completed "Black Without Malice: The Bill Bell Story." In its foreword, Bell called the book a "story interwoven with joy, heartaches, disappointments, accomplishments, and racial attitudes of positive and negative value."
"Every day you would see him, and he always talked about putting (a book) together," said Dr. Roosevelt Holmes, associate professor in the Department of Health and Physical Education and Human Services at FSU. "He wanted to leave something behind. He was a fighter ... really an outstanding coach and educator."
The funeral will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Haymount Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Harry Miller officiating. Burial will be in LaFayette Memorial Park.
Surviving in addition to his son are his wife, Bunnee Bell; daughter, Dr. Latifu K. Munirah of San Francisco; adopted daughter, Joan T. Johnson of Herndon, Va.; sister, Helen Rossiter, of Akron, Ohio; and three granddaughters.
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