Alonzo Herman Bell

Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery

U. S. Veteran Korea

        In many ways life is an ongoing venture in construction. It is progress, the building and re-modeling of self and family. The blueprint of life began for Alonzo "Lonnie" Herman Bell on October 15, 1923. He was born to parents John and Jessie Bell of Powhatan, Virginia. Here he grew up in the midst of a large family. He was raised in a very nurturing, God-fearing home, which was founded on the principles of faith and hard work. Alonzo was the fourth of eight children: Eugertha, Viola, John, Mattie, Samuel, Celestine, and Jaunita. While still a young child, his mother Jessie passed away. This loss became one of the driving forces behind an intensely strong love for his brothers and sisters that filtered down to his extended family. He gained much happiness and satisfaction from giving unselfishly of himself to ensure the well being of his family and to strenghten its foundation.

        From childhood Alonzo was taught the true value of building a powerful, spiritual relationship with God. Alonzo accepted Christ as his personal Savior at an early age and was baptized into the fellowship of Mount Zion Baptist Church. He was very active in both Sunday School and Church. He served as a Sunday School Teacher, a member of the Willing Workers Club, and a Trustee for many years. He treasured this membership throughout the entirety of his life. The construction and expansion of the church truly warmed his heart.

        Alonzo's love for building and strengthening his family inevitably flowed over into his career. At a young age, Alonzo began following in his father's footsteps and learned from him the trade of carpentry. Alonzo served his country in the Armed Forces during the Korean War, receiving an Honorable Discharge on March 30, 1955 with the rank of Sergeant First Class. He also worked as a trade instructor at St. Emma Military Academy for a number of years after which he was employed with the government in the General Services Administration until his retirement.

        Alonzo built a beautiful relationship with Clementine J. Bell. They married, made their home, and raised their family together in Powhatan County until her death in 1981.

        Alonzo also laid the foundation for his own family. He has three devoted children: son, Dr. Cary E. Bell and his wife Anita of New Jersey, daughter, Kilja and her husband Lloyd Taylor, Jr. of Powhatan, and Godson/nephew Elwood Bell and his wife Pearl of New Jersey. He devoted a unique and special relationship with each. He was also the proud grandparent of four. He saw himself reflected in them: Christopher Bell of South Dakota, Franciose Wittenburg (John) of Hawaii, Melanie Bell of New Jersey, and Christin Taylor of Powhatan; and one great grandson, Nicolas Wittenburg. He was also the proud Godfather of Trina Wilson (Brian) of Maryland. His joy flowed in many ways from witnessing their growth and development.

        In 1990, Alonzo married Esterine Bell of Glen Allen where they began shaping a loving relationship. From this union his large family further extended to embrace two daughters, Dr. Cynthia Mayo and husband, James of Glen Allen, Gladys Downing and husband, Ruppert of Illinois; five grandchildren, Keith Mayo (LaShawn), Craig Mayo (Adria), Dr. Cheryl Downing, Charlene Witek (Tom), and Shelia Simkaitis (Richard); seven great grandchildren, Keith Jr., Aaron, James and Amir May, Charmaree Shelton, Elianer and Asher Witek.

        Alonzo also enjoyed his special friendships with Gregory Hill of Midlothian, Virginia, Hattie and Tony O'Neal of Aberdeen, North Carolina, and Priest Amos Robinson and The New Apostolic Church Family.

        To describe Alonzo Herman Bell is to tell the story of an extrenely spiritual, generous and caring man. Above all, he loved his family and his church. From him one may learn the meaning of progress and building. If we are to properly celebrate the life of Alonzo, we should remember that he was a dutiful Christian, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, and friend. Most importantly know him as a great builder of many things.

From the Children...

Dear Dad,

        I am so glad I had the chance to get to Virginia in July and see you for what turned out to be our last face to face encounter here on earth. I am also happy that during that two-day visit, Francoise and Melanie were able to spend some quality time with their grandfather. And, most especially, we were able to present to you your great grandchild, Nicolas Kealoha Wittenburg, who came all the way from Hawaii so that you could hold him in your arms and see that the magnificent lineage of love and generosity that you cherished and nourished from your ancestors would be passed on to yet another generation in the great Bell bloodline. Althought your physical body was weak during our visit, thank God your mind was still lucid and you could appreciate the special-ness of that encounter. For as long as we live, I and your granddaughter Francoise will always remind Nicolas that his great grandfather touched him two days in July 2003 and smiled on him and gave him your blessings. And, God willing, Nicolas will in turn share with his future cousins and one day his own children and grandchildren that loved you passed down to him.

        Dad, you and I on many occasions over the years talked about our relationship and we often regretted that for most of my childhood, forces beyond either of our control had separated us. But we also marveled that although we were rarely physically together during these years, spiritually we each carried in our hearts a deep and aching longing to be together, as the immutable ties that bound us could never be rent asunder. I remember vividly at the age of 19 making a pilgrimage from New York to Powhatan to reconnect with you in an attempt to fill a void in me that I always felt had been missing. Like the good and wise father in the parable of the prodigal son, you and Kilja without hesitation welcomed me back into your lives with open arms. I was overcome both with pride and humility as you took me around Powhatan and introduced me to aunts and uncles, cousins and other relatives (everybody seemed to be related) whom I only vaguely remembered or had never actually met before. You seemed to know everyone in the County and everyone admired and respected you. You talked to me about the progress that was being made in Civil Rights in Virginia although with your characteristic humility, you didn't brag about the role you were playing in this important struggle. Both of us were delighted, I recall, when almost everyone we encountered remarked about how much alike we looked.

        In the 41 years since we were reunited, you have been not only my father, but also my mentor and hero. You taught me so much about people and life and yes, even about God. The way you always respected your fellow man. The joy you always found in both physical as well as intellectual pursuits. Your kindness to animals. Your love of nature and the soil. Your optimism. Your love of Powhatan and the history of the black folk who refused to flee north but stayed there to safeguard our heritage and to make the place a safe and pleasant haven for generations to come. Your enjoyment of the simple pleasures of life...of finding contentment within one's self and one's surroundings.

        Dad, I could not have had a finer father! When it is my time to go, I only hope I will have achieved a fraction of the serenity I always saw in you. I have no regrets about anything between us. although I would have wanted you to stay longer here on earth, I can peacefully leave you in God's eternal care.

        Until we meet again,

                    Your loving son,

        I called you Uncle Lonnie; you raised me like your son. You gave me a real father-son relationship, and for that I love and thank you from the bottom of my heart. You taught me that the key to life is "to love and to do the right thing". Until we meet in heaven, "I'll see you on the get-go" Dad.
        I will always love and miss you,



        You were the best father anyone could wish for. I will always remember and cherish all the times we shared together in my childhood when you looked out for me... and I will remember and cherish all the times we shared together in my adulthood when I tried to look out for you.

"If I could steal one final glance, one final step, one final dance with him

I'd play that song that would never, ever end
"Cause I'd love, love, love
To dance with my father again..."

-Luther Vandross - "Dance with My Father"

        You will live in my heart forever,

        Kilja "Jo"


The family of the late Alonzo Herman Bell, wishes to express sincere and
heartfelt appreciation to all of our friends and church family for all acts and
expressions of kindness shown during our hours of bereavement.
May God continue to bless each of you.
- The Family -
reprinted by permission