Recently I spent a Saturday with two good friends, Justin and Joshua, taking a drive through the Ozark mountains of Northwest Arkansas. We were driving just to catch up on our friendship, look over the beautiful countryside, and pay a short visit to our families who live in Harrison Arkansas. Our agenda also included buying some boots at the Harness Shoe Store on The Square, visiting friends at the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca, and driving up the beautiful Boxley Valley to view the elk herds and the limestone colored Buffalo River. It seemed everywhere we stopped local people were coming up and asking, “How’s your dad?” Then various comments were added like: “He was the best game warden we ever had.” “He is a good man.” “Glad he’s doing well!” “Tell him I asked about him.”
Fred Bell is 90 years old. I think it remarkable and an honor to still be remembered and thought of so fondly by so many. Yesterday, a couple weeks after the weekend mentioned, Dad and I took a drive to see my cousin Carol Chaney, M.D., at her home near Lead Hill Arkansas. After our friendly and enjoyable visit, doctor, cousin Carol was saying goodbye to Dad as he got into his truck, and said something like this. “Whenever I meet people I don’t know around the county, and I mention that you’re my uncle, everything changes, as they become warm and friendly to me, saying, ‘Oh, you know Fred Bell?’”. Dad spoke up quietly, and said with a smile, “Well I worked for the Game and Fish Commission for forty years.” Carol smiled and said, “I don’t think that’s the reason Uncle. I think it’s because you’ve cared about them and because of your character.”:-)
Somewhat remarkable as well, is the fact that Dad is still showing up in magazines and videos at the age of 90. I don’t think that’s common for ninety-year old men. There was a two page article about Dad in the latest edition of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission magazine, (page 91 and 92 if you’re interested). The commission also recently published a hardbound table coffee book entitled, A Century of Conservation, which contained quotes by Dad. And to top that off, there is a recently released YouTube video from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission with the same title (A Century of Conservation) that contains information about some of Dad’s life’s work with his picture (at two minutes and forty seconds if you’re interested.:-)). Again, this is not normal for a 90 year old man who’s been retired for 44 years.:-)
Maybe this is what’s most remarkable? I’m glad this man is my dad. My brother and sister are too. All his friends seem very glad they know him. They love him and would do anything for him. Perhaps because he lived his life that way towards them.
He still lives at home and enjoys looking out at the blue Ozark Mountains to the south, Newton County, where he lived much of his life. Lots of birds frequent the trees in his backyard and his deck. Even though he lives in the city, deer and raccoons also frequent his backyard which brings him a lot of joy. He remains gentle, humble, and kind. He’s always been a leader. And he is still leading the way, demonstrating to us all how to age with humor, dignity, kindness, and grace.
I love you Dad! Thank you for being a man of noble character, sacrifice, and service. A leader, a role model, and a hero. Thank you for fearing God, honoring God, and serving God in front of us. I’m glad you’re my dad! Happy Father’s Day 2015, a month or so early!
“The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.” (Proverbs 20:7)
“Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, And I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.” (Psalm 26:1)
“Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the Lord.” (Psalm 128:4)
“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)
“One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:4)
“And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:18)