Jim spent his entire life in Beloit, KS. From early life he either talked, listened, or did something on monuments. Marcella would make sales calls and he learned how to sit on a chair without moving, but also learned a lot from Marcella on how to sell a monument. As Jim grew older, he started working around the shop under the watchful eye of his dad. Later on, he had extra guidance from his brother, John.
Jim graduated from St. John’s Catholic High School on May 19, 1968. He went to work full time at Bell Memorials on May 20, 1968, and never looked back! John Sr. was very strict about quality first. Jim carried that tradition on as he ran Bell Memorials and passed it on to his son, Josh. As Bell Memorials continued with higher production numbers, it was still all about quality.
Jim and John Jr. ran the business until 1990, when Jim and Ruth purchased the business and continued the growth of Bell Memorials. It was a wonderful team effort. In 1993, they opened a branch in Great Bend, KS, and later on they added a business in Manhattan, KS and Salina, KS. In 2003, their son, Josh came to work full time in the business. He is a 6th generation stone cutter and will continue to carry on the tradition of Bell Memorials.
On July 16, 1983, Jim married Ruth (Eller) Baxter. She brought 2 children, Charissa and Troy to make a family. Josh joined the family on July 9, 1984.
Jim was a 50 year member of Knights of Columbus, and was the youngest elected Grand Knight. He was a member of the Beloit Area Chamber of Commerce, and was a past president. He was a past president of Kansas-Oklahoma Monument Builders Association, a member of the Mid-America Monument Builders Association, and had served as trustee for several years. He was also a member of Monument Builders of North America, and also a past president of that organization travelling all over the United States and Canada to attend association meetings. Ruth is also a past president of MBNA, and they travelled all over making many friends. They were the first husband and wife to have the honor of both being president. Jim’s greatest hobby was building monuments, be it a small one or a large one. His passion was to memorialize a person’s life. Jim’s greatest joy was his wife and family.
Left to celebrate Jim’s life is his wife, Ruth of the home; daughter, Charissa (Mike) Brummer of Beloit; sons, Troy (April) Baxter of Olive Branch, MS, and Josh (Melissa) Bell of Beloit; brother, John Bell of Concordia; sister, Mary Heidrick of Colorado Springs, Colorado; sister-in-law, Janet Specht of Beloit; brother-in-law Gordon Eller (Ann) of Cape Girardeau, Missouri; and 12 grandchildren, Vanessa (Zachery) Schwarz, Cole Brummer, Blake, Parker, Ellee, Karlee, and Tadd Baxter, Taylor Kibbee, Jacob Winkler, and Payton, Paige, and Lindsey Bell.
Preceding him in death were his parents; brothers-in-law, Ron Heidrick, Ed Specht, Curt Norris; and sisters-in-law, Joann Norris and Dolores Bell.
Funeral services will be at 10 AM Thursday, January 17 at the St. John’s Catholic Church. Visitation will be at 6 PM Wednesday at the Church, followed by a rosary service at 7 PM. Memorials may be given to the St. John’s Cemetery Association.