Thursday, April 21, 2011

SBU Chief Encourager Dr. Ellen Bell Passes Away

Southwest Baptist University News Release
Contact: Sharina Smith, Office of Marketing & Communications
417-328-1803 /

BOLIVAR, Mo. – On April 19, 2011, at 2:45 p.m., Dr. Ellen Bell passed away and went home to be with her Lord and Savior. Dr. Bell enjoyed visitors up until the time of her death and had been visited by her pastor Billy Russell of First Baptist Church of Bolivar, Janet Juhlin, and Judy Taylor.

“Dr. Bell was 90 years old on December 27. She came to SBU in 1950 and has been an integral part of the SBU family. For the past 61 years, SBU also has been Ellen’s family. Ellen knew more about SBU and about generations of SBU graduates than any other individual. Ellen was very proud of the fact that she had worked at SBU for 50 years,” SBU President Pat Taylor said.

“SBU lost one of our heroes. SBU is a better University because of Dr. Ellen Bell. I will miss her and her encouragement as many of you will miss her,” Dr. Taylor said. “She loved students since she first arrived on campus in May of 1950.  She also loved our faculty and staff.  She committed her life to SBU. I thank God for the influence Ellen has had on all of us.”


Ellen Pauline Bell became a part of the Southwest Baptist College family on May 8, 1950.  Her early years at Southwest Baptist College were spent serving as secretary to six chief executive officers:  Dr. John Dowdy, Dr. J. E. Raines, Dean Orien B. Hendrex, Dr. Robert Craig, Dr. Courts Redford and Dr. James Sells.  For the remaining years served at the University, Miss Bell worked as an assistant in the office of university advancement until her retirement in May 2000.

A native of Sedalia, Missouri, she attended elementary school and high school, graduating from Smith-Cotton High School in 1938.  She attended Central Business College of Sedalia and completed a business program in 1943.  She also attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Central Seminary.  Prior to her employment at SWBC, she worked as a secretary at the Pratt-Whitney Aircraft Corporation and the War Assets Administration in Kansas City, and as a secretary at First Baptist Church of Clinton.

Dr. Bell’s association with SBU spans six decades.  Her dedication, loyalty and commitment to the University were only surpassed by founders Maupin and Ingman.  Her Christian example influenced the lives of thousands of students over the years.  At one time, Miss Bell was the pep club sponsor and cheerleaders’ advisor.  The University was honored to present Miss Bell with an honorary Life Service Award in 1990, the first Staff Life Beautiful award in 1992, the Trustees’ Medallion in 1995 and an honorary doctorate in 2005.

During her years in Bolivar, Dr. Bell served as secretary for the Polk County Unit of the American Cancer Society for more than 25 years, and was involved in the Bolivar Area Community Concert organization since 1956, having served as president and vice-president.  She was a member of First Baptist Church of Bolivar for more than 50 years.

After living in Bolivar for more than 60 years, Dr. Bell relocated to the Baptist Home in Ozark, Missouri, last July.  She made the transition very well and enjoyed living there.   She had numerous friends who visited her in the Baptist Home and continued to attend some of the SBU events she loved so much.


Visitation for Dr. Ellen Bell will be Thursday, April 21, at 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Murray Funeral Home.  The funeral service will be at First Baptist Church of Bolivar at 10:00 a.m. on Friday (April 22).  Burial will be at the Laurel Oak Cemetery in Windsor, Missouri.


Southwest Baptist University is a leader among private universities in truly integrating Christ-centered academic pursuits with comprehensive professional programs at an affordable price. At SBU, the faculty and staff create a caring, academic community to prepare students to be servant leaders in a global society. For more information, visit

SBU’s Office of Marketing and Communications is available to news media 24 hours a day at (417) 399-7918.