Lowell Emerson Bell, 82, of Wade, N.C., a Boca Grande native, passed away on Sunday, May 14, 2017.
Lowell was born to Angelo and Myrtle Padilla Bell on January 10, 1935 at the south end of the island. His father was the chief engineer at the Power House for 20 years, and the house Lowell’s family lived in was located right about where the center of the lake is behind the old Power House now.
Lowell’s father was born in Charlotte Harbor Town, which as we know it was at the north end of the bridge on the Port Charlotte side. Angelo built boats at a business located not far from where Fishermen’s Village is now, and he built the very first Boca Grande pilot boat called “Comet.” Myrtle Padilla was born on Cayo Costa and her father – Andrew Lawrence Padilla – had a family whose generations before had served as fishermen and tarpon guides in the area.
Lowell lived in the house he grew up in until 1953, when he finished high school early to service in the Army He spent four years in the military, three of them in Austria and Germany and the last stateside. When he left the military he moved to Jacksonville and met his wife, Jane. She was a girl from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
In the mid-1960s Lowell and Jane returned to Boca Grande and he went to work for the railroad. He was hurt on the job and didn’t return to it, but instead worked for Bill and Joann Speer at their island electrical and plumbing business. It was during that time Lowell built a house at the corner of W. Railroad Avenue and Banyan Street. He also worked as head of maintenance at The Gasparilla Inn & Club in the 1970s, and Bayard Sharp was his boss.
Lowell and Jane left the island in 1981, when he was 46 years old. From there he got a job working at the 11-story Womack Army hospital on base at Fort Bragg, N.C., as a maintenance supervisor. He and Jane lived in North Carolina when he passed away, but had just visited the island a few months prior to his death to see his hometown one more time.
He is survived by his wife, Jane Bell of the home; a son, Grant Bell and wife, Lisa of Woodbridge, Va.; three brothers, Philip Bell of St. Petersburg, Fla., Charles Bell of Cape Coral, Fla. and Milton Bell of Brunswick, Ga.; two sisters, Mary Ardys Bell Clawson and Carolyn Bell Lawrence both of DeBary, Fla.; nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
A graveside service was held at 2 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2017 in Old Bluff Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Wade with Rev. Archie Barringer officiating.
A private visitation will be held. Services entrusted to Rogers and Breece Funeral Home, Fayetteville, NC.