J. Fredric Bell
J. Fredric Bell passed peacefully while reading the newspaper 30 Oct 2019, and was reunited with his wife of 65 years, Florence. A 46-year resident of Lockhart, Fred was born to John Bell and Thelma German in Stark Co. North Dakota, 4 Mar 1931. He learned to work early on his family’s ranch, driving hay wagons at 4 years old, milking cows at 6. He broke horses before he learned to ride a bicycle.
His early school years were in a one-room schoolhouse. His high school was co-located with a college, allowing him to play college football, during the war, at age 14. He only lost one match as a golden gloves boxer, which persuaded him to retire from the sport. He entered college at age 16 in his hometown of Ellendale, and left home at 20 to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Wyoming, where he also wrestled and played football.
Fred joined the Air Force during the Korean war and was stationed in Houston, where he met his future wife Florence Van Dyke. During his military career, they would move to Mississippi, South Dakota, Louisiana, North Dakota, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, California, and Taiwan. As an electronic warfare officer, he flew in B-52 bombers during much of the cold war. He flew 100 missions over Vietnam in an F-105. As a ‘Wild Weasel’, his job was to seek and destroy anti-aircraft missile sites. He earned many awards, including the distinguished flying cross and the silver star.
He served in Boy Scout leadership positions in 4 different states and two countries. He also became an avid gun and knife collector, a hobby that would later extend to pocket watches, spurs, and farm implements.
Fred and Florence retired to Lockhart with 5 children in 1973, where he began a new career with Plum Creek Conservation District. He was active in politics, serving as a city councilman, and Republican state convention delegate. He received the Chamber of Commerce 1998 “Most Worthy Citizen” award.
Pursuing his high school passion, Fred joined local theater. He enjoyed acting, directing and mentoring budding actors. He was instrumental in moving the acting group to the Baker Theater, where the stage is named in his honor. He also played a major role in promoting and acting in the annual reenactment of the Battle of Plum Creek.
Fred served in Kiwanis leadership positions but was also known for his work in building wheelchair ramps for the elderly and disabled. He was active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where he served in many capacities, including as a temple worker, president of the local congregation, and energetic relief volunteer in many local and state disasters, including the Bastrop fires, San Marcos flood, Jarrell tornado, and Galveston hurricane.
His wife, and son Craig preceded him in death. He is survived by 7 of his 15 siblings, his children David, Stuart, Bruce and Nancy, and their families, including 7 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
The Bell Family will receive friends from 7-9 PM at McCurdy Funeral Home on Friday, November 8, 2019. A funeral service will begin at 10 AM, Saturday, November 9th at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1008 State Park Rd, Lockhart, TX with burial to follow at Memory Lawn Memorial Park in Martindale.
To view and sign the guest book, visit www.post-register.com/j-fredric-bell