BLOOMINGTON – Claude Anderson Bell, 95, of Bloomington, passed away at 6:40 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 18, 2017) at Martin Health Center, Bloomington.
A memorial service for Claude will be 4 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, Normal, with the Rev. Larry Gaylord officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service. Calvert & Metzler Memorial Home, Bloomington, is handling arrangements.
He was born June 14, 1921, to Lloyd and Leska Powell Bell in Hamlet, N.C., and graduated from Monroe, N.C., High School. His love of “The land of the long leaf pine, the summer land where the sun doth shine, where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great … the Old North State” continued throughout his life and well into generations that follow.
Claude enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1942. He was a gun crewman in the Light Artillery Canon Company, 311th Infantry, 78th Lightning Division. Claude was engaged in ground combat in Germany and was discharged in March 1946.
Claude married Emma Jean Horine on July 22, 1944. She passed away on July 14, 2010, just days short of their 66th wedding anniversary and the wedding of their sixth grandchild.
In 1947, he earned his undergrad degree from Western Kentucky at Bowling Green. His master’s degree in education was earned in 1948 from University of Missouri. Claude taught at Central High School in Charlotte, N.C., where he drew the plans and contracted construction of his family's first home, including a pine-paneled family room.
In August 1956, the family moved to Normal, where he taught at University High and Illinois State Normal University. Jean and Claude joined “Newcomers,” a group of faculty and wives who met monthly for a meal except for the month of December, when everyone was too busy during the holidays. The group remained close, with almost family ties, ending their regular monthly meeting schedule 58 years later.
When Old Main, the original building and the center of ISNU campus life, was razed in 1958, Claude used some of the huge pine timbers from which it was built to craft a bedroom suite for his son. He also made many other pieces of furniture for their home. He refinished an oak table found at auction with enough leaves to host children and grandchildren. He then re-caned enough matching chairs to provide the seating for all. Wood was his medium.
He spent summers and a sabbatical in Columbia, Mo., where he completed his Ed. D. in 1964. He used his love of woodworking and furniture making to teach wood shop for many years and later taught mechanical drawing and drafting classes. Subject matter aside, his ongoing commitment was to developing young people as they became functioning ethical adults. Claude retired from ISU in December 1986 and was “roasted” as the “Conscience of the Industrial Arts Department.” He continued teaching throughout his life, leading folks of all ages to learn life lessons and supporting past students in their careers.
After Claude and Jean moved to Westminster Village, he enjoyed Wednesday coffee with the “ISU guys,” Golden K activities, gardening by the barn, and hours on the stationary bike. When the Foundation garden walk was built, he planted a red bud tree in his wife’s memory and later an eastern pine to honor Old Main, the faculty and staff at ISNU and ISU.
Claude is survived by his daughter, Barb (Rod) Lundgren, Normal; son, Bruce Bell, Chesapeake, Va.; six grandchildren, Kim (Alberto) Sandoval, Scott Lundgren, Katie (Eric) Nolan, Amy Fitz, Laura Rauch, Adam (Stephanie) Bell; and 10 great-grandchildren who are left to follow his legacy.
Claude was a member of First Presbyterian Church, Normal, for 60 years, serving in various capacities. He was a deeply religious, highly ethical man committed to his country, church, education and his family. Many will miss the quick “zingers” which highlighted his sense of humor.
Memorial contributions may be made to an ISU scholarship established in his name. Checks should be made to the ISU Foundation with a memo line “Gift for Technology Legacy Scholarship in Memory of Claude Bell” and mailed to Campus Box 8000, Normal, IL 61790-8000.
Condolences may be left at www.calvertmemorial.com.