December 6, 1999
Bell is survived by his wife, Donna; two children, Amanda and Nicholas; his mother, Ellen Pachell, of Youngstown, Ohio; and his sister, Donna Lee Kish, of Houston.
Bell, much admired by colleagues and friends throughout the state, took his own life last week. The family has requested that memorial contributions be made to the Shoreline Community College Foundation Dr. Ronald E. Bell Scholarship Fund, 16101 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98115; or call (206) 546-4755.
Bell began his career as a math instructor at Shoreline Community College in 1964, the same year the college opened. After completing his doctoral degree at the University of Washington in 1969, Bell was promoted to administrative assistant to the president, a position he held for 10 years. From 1979 to 1981, Bell was the associate executive director of the State Board for Washington Community and Technical Colleges in Olympia.
In July 1981, Bell became the president of Shoreline Community College, serving in that capacity until his retirement, June 30, 1995. Since his retirement, Bell had served as interim president at North Idaho Community College and the interim chancellor for the Spokane Community College District.
During his tenure as president, Bell was known as a passionate champion for Shoreline CC and its students. He provided leadership for many of the early capital projects, including the Nursing Education Building, the Music Building, the Parent-Child Center, and the Visual Communications Technology Building.
Bell established the Shoreline Community College Foundation, which led to the construction of the nationally-recognized and award-winning Professional Automotive Training Center. He later oversaw the creation of the college's satellite campus, the Northshore Center. Bell was also instrumental in establishing the statewide college computer consortium, now known as the Center for Information Services, serving as its founding director.
Current Shoreline Community College President Gary Oertli says, "As one of the first employees of Shoreline Community College, Bell helped to shape the culture and the vision of the institution. As a teacher, an administrator, and a president, he made significant contributions to this college and to the community college system in our state--even on the national level."
Upon his retirement, the Shoreline Community College Board of Trustees recognized Dr. Bell for his "unwavering honesty, high standards, and integrity, accompanied by a deeply-rooted loyalty to the students and personnel of Shoreline Community College."
Bell also served in leadership positions in local and national organizations, including the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce, King County Economic Development Council, Northwest Association of Community and Technical Colleges, and the American Association of Community Colleges. After his retirement, Bell served on the boards of Kaiser/Group Health, and Group Health of Puget Sound, and was the Director of Arts Education at the Paramount Theater.
"Ron was devoted to his family. The home and the family were the very core of his being. He was a wonderful father and husband who was devoted to me in all aspects of my life. He often professed his love for all of us. He was an affectionate and deep-feeling human being," said Donna Bell, his wife.
"This is such a tragedy in the way that he died. That wasn't really him. As a family, what we need to do is to take the wonderful qualities that he had and try to carry them forward in the things that we do," said his daughter, Amanda Bell.
"His family is regarding him as the bearer of happiness and the recipient of his family's unrestrained love. He is a mentor and a hero to us all," said his son, Nicholas Bell.