About Us: Our family history
My work experience started at the young
age of 5, when you could find me pedaling my John Deere
Tractor with trailer in the display yard of my parents
monument business. Sticking out of the trailer were
short pieces of air hose and
a pair of old. goggles. I would pretend to cemetery
letter on the monuments in the display area. People
driving by certainly wondered what was going on! I also
learned my first color of granite at the ripe age of
five. The color that I could recognize in any cemetery
During my junior and senior high years,
I worked in various departments in our shop, as we were
producing 400 VA markers a month. Through this experience,
I learned a lot about the ability to' produce stone
at a rapid rate.I have worked in all departments of
our firm, including sawing, polishing, rock pitching,
sandblasting, shape carving, layouts, stencil cutting
(both hand and computer), setting and sales.
I started working full time for my
father in 1968. There were four family members employed
by Bell Memorials. In 1979 my brother and 1 bought the
business from our parents.
is hard for me to write about the achievements of our
business. We have gone from the 60's when I worked part
time and we had the government contract with many employees
to relinquishing our contract in 1970 so we could commit
more time to the sale and production of a retail monument.
Our work force was cut back to four people (all family).
In the 70's we experimented with flat carving verses
shape carving, single process verses double process.
It became a policy of Bell Memorials to use no "short
cuts". This policy is still in effect today.
at Bell Memorials have been mind boggling. In 1955,
my father purchased one of the first wire saws in the
world. In 1985 my brother and I purchased one of the
first design stations and stencil cutting machines to
be used in the monument business. Working directly with
the manufacturer of the automated stencil cutter, Bell
Memorials became the sole distributor to monument builders
in the United States for Gerber Scientific Products.
1990, I purchased Bell Memorials from my brother and
my wife, Ruth, joined me in managing our business. John
kept the computer sales part of the business and Ruth
and I became sole owners of Bell Memorials. We have
increased in sales and size. We now have 21 full time
workers, two sales managers and two branch offices.
roots of our firm go back five generations, with my
great-great grandfather working on building stone in
Illinois and Missouri. My great grandfather, James Russell
Bell (who I am named after), was a monument builder
in Kansas and the Oklahoma Territory (before it became
a state). He was definitely considered to be a "shade
tree" memorialist, as he would ship stone to location
and carve and letter it on location. Clarence Bell,
my grandfather, was in Ferdonia, KS, which is located
in southern Kansas.
his death, my Uncle Bill took over the business and
my dad, John Bell, Sr., went to work for Roosevelt Granite
in Snyder, OK. as their designer. Dad later took a job
at Beloit, KS. as their designer and carver. A few years
later he married the secretary, Marcella, my mother.
They were able to purchase the monument company in 1946.
The traditions of Bell Memorials were