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Louis Bell

Louis Myer Bell

Thursday, August 29th, 1935 - Monday, March 9th, 2020
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Obituary

BELL, Louis M.

Took his final leave on Monday, March 9, in the morning.

And truly, what a long strange trip it was! In the days before computers and the internet turned the newspaper culture upside down and squeezed the profits out of ink and paper businesses, reporters and editors and photographers believed that their profession attracted more than its share of people of idiosyncratic ways who were nonetheless valuable members of the newsroom team. At the Boston Globe from 1955 to 1992, Louis M. Bell, who died in his home at age 84, was the very model of such a newspaperman.
A native of Malden, where he again lived during his final years, Mr. Bell had a difficult childhood as a result of the asthma that kept him from taking deep breaths throughout his life and also kept him out of classrooms with his peers until the latter years of high school, in his case, Malden High. He often credited his pulmonologist, Dr. Barry Levine, with rescuing him from a short, painful life by using cortisone, still an experimental drug, to turn his life around. With a new lease on life, he enrolled at Northeastern University, and in 1955, signed on with the Globe, as a co-op student. He later enrolled in Suffolk Law School on a part-time basis, but by then newspapering had him hooked and he joined the Globe full-time.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Globe was far from the preeminent daily paper in Boston. In Mr. Bell’s early years he mostly performed clerical tasks at the direction of editors with assumptions attuned to turn-of-the-century journalism. But as the paper turned the corner under new leadership in the mid-‘60s, so did Mr. Bell. After an assignment as the daily obituary editor, he joined the Business section as a desk editor. He had found his place in the Globe ecosystem and he stayed there for the next quarter century.
Before Google, there was Lou Bell. Other Globe staffers depended on Mr. Bell’s substantial knowledge of the world of business, as well as the academic/socio/economic basis for whatever was happening, and sundry facts of all sorts. He knew the history of the businesses and the people who made things go round, and he was good with figures, the gravel of the money markets. But Mr. Bell also brought a special added value to the Globe:
He never abided by the workplace adage “Off the clock, Out of the building.” On workdays he arrived at 3 p.m. and usually stayed at his post until the last city edition was in the pressroom. Night editors in charge of that edition took off their jackets and took out their pencils when they saw him approaching the news desk at 2 a.m. with a marked-up proof noting errors he had spotted.
And Mr. Bell always befriended the young men and women who made the Globe a lively place for most of his years there. He shared the joie de vivre of their lives beyond the newsroom and the sports department and he mourned with them when the losses came way too early, one to war in Vietnam and one to a virus too strong.
That was one side of Louis M. Bell, the newspaperman who used an eyeshade and wore suspenders. On the other side was a soulful free spirit who:
• Gathered a group of young Globe employees into his van (the “Magic Bus”) in August 1969 and drove up and onto the farm owned by Max Yasgur in Bethel, New York, where an audience of several hundred thousand had gathered for "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music," more commonly known as the Woodstock Festival. In the aftermath, it was impossible to separate truth from legend of what happened with the Bell Brigade during that event, though “zany” is a word that comes up in all recollections.
• Used a kid’s whistle from his desk in the middle of the room to gain someone’s attention or just to celebrate a joke he had just heard. He also had an endless supply of Tootsie Pops for the asking, and was dubbed “a man of parts” for his pockets full of gadgets – from pen-knifes, to first aid kits, to flashlights – to answer any emergency.
• Was private, even secretive, yet gregarious, with “like family” friends among Globe staffers, proud hillbillies, reggae loving Jamaicans, members of the Boston Caribbean community, and all manner of humanity.
• Was not religious and never learned Hebrew (due to his childhood hospitalizations), yet attended High Holiday services, often used Yiddish expressions with his family, and contributed generously to Jewish (and other religious and secular) causes.
• Honored the Catholic faith of some of his closest friends by not eating meat on Fridays during Lent.
• Was short, with unruly hair and a moustache that made for a matched set. A colleague tells of the time when he and his family and Lou were waiting to be seated at the Stockyard Restaurant in Brighton, and one of three young women standing by the bar yelled out, “Oh, my God, it’s Albert Einstein!” and she and her pals came over and gave him big hugs. Mr. Bell was not stunned; he just smiled and nodded affirmatively.
• Haircuts were almost anathema to Mr. Bell. He had the cuts twice a year: When he was preparing to leave for the Great Smoky Mountains, and in later years, Jamaica, for his annual October sojourn, and when he signed his tax return every April.
• There is no picture of Mr. Bell with this death notice. He spent most of his life avoiding cameras to the point where he would recruit designated agents at events like weddings to warn him if someone with a camera was approaching. The family keeps faith with him in that spirit.
•••
Mr. Bell leaves a devoted family: His niece, Tina Weldai, of Malden, his nephew, Richard Gopen, and his wife, Carol Ginsberg, of Bridgewater, great-nephews Adam Weldai and Matthew Weldai, of Malden. He was predeceased by his parents, Michael Bell and Tillie (Rosenzweig) Bell, and his sister and brother-in-law Rosalie (Bell) Gopen and Kenneth Gopen, all of Malden. We also wish to acknowledge the loving and professional care that Mr. Bell received during his decline, at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, Copley at Stoughton Nursing Care Center, at his assisted living facility, Forestdale Park, in Malden, and through Merrimack Hospice while at Forestdale.
Funeral services for Mr. Bell will be held on Sun., March 15, at Goldman Funeral Chapel, 174 Ferry St., Malden, MA at 12 o’clock. Burial will follow at Mishna Cemetery, 232 Fuller St., Everett, MA. Visiting hours will be held following the burial at the Weldai residence, 97 Hill St. in Malden until sundown. For those wishing to honor Mr. Bell’s memory, donations can be sent to Combined Jewish Philanthropies, 126 High St., Boston, MA 02110, or to a charity of your choice. Chances are, Mr. Bell contributed to it.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Sunday, March 15th, 2020 | 12:00pm
    When
    Sunday, March 15th, 2020 12:00pm
    Location
    Goldman Funeral Chapel
    Address
    174 Ferry St.
    MALDEN, MA 02148
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Officiant
    Rabbi David Kudan
  • Interment

    Location
    Mishna Cemetery
    Address
    232 Fuller Street
    EVERETT, MA 02149
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email

Condolences

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Private Condolence
KK

Kent Kelley

Posted at 11:10am
Lou, Jerry Higgins and myself , the three amigos (source: Lou), were most fortunate to spend about 10 solid years in the 80s and 90s enjoying music concerts, sporting events and road trips. From a week-long vacation to Montreal (in the Magic Bus of course) and camping on an island in the middle of Lake George or weekend getaways-to some of the best rock concerts, Jerry, Lou and I laughed and smiled like kids on a big adventure. Lou was a friend to all and a wealth of knowledge on all subjects. He will forever hold a large place in my heart and memories. I am a richer man because of our friendship and I know others are as well. Guys like Lou are to be treasured. Heaven just got a little more interesting and their music a little better😎🙏.-Kent Kelley.
JF

Joseph Frechette

Posted at 08:02pm
Louie always had a smile and a kind word for every member of the Frechette family. We shared a love for Reggae shows and always had time for a lively conversation about same. He will be missed.
Joe Frechette’

Bryna Tabasky

Posted at 02:24pm
So sorry for your loss. I remember him fondly and with love. I have a vision of his beloved sister Rosalie welcoming him home with a song. My sincere condolences.
PA

Peter Accardi

Posted at 05:54pm
Jim McGarry is the name of the young man killed in Vietnam who is mentioned in my memory of Louis
PA

Peter Accardi

Posted at 03:28pm
Often called "the funniest man in the world" by those who knew him, he had a very different side. He referred to himself as Pagliacci, crying on the inside, and he suffered the slings and arrows thrown his way intensely. When a friend died - I remember Jim (Leary? forget his last name) -- was lost a short time after he was sent to Vietnam, Louis was inconsolable for weeks. The same when sports guy Steve Rice died at a young age. When he did recover, he reverted to the character who made all of us laugh.
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