Beatrice E. Bell (Bettie B) died peacefully on Aug. 6, 2002 at her home in Freeland. She was born on March 14, 1919 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She grew up in the Seattle area and was a 1937 graduate of Roosevelt High School.
Mrs. Bell and her husband, James L. Bell, moved to Whidbey Island in 1964. He had a water and drilling business, and she managed the books for the company.
Later, she became the driving force for a library in Freeland. Her vision for a library began when she purchased a dress shop, known as “Bettie B’s” on Main Street in Freeland. She started the town’s first library by putting up racks of books in the back of the shop. She knew library patrons by their first names and would remember what each of them liked to read. A children’s storyteller would read to kids while they sat on the floor of the dress shop.
Mrs. Bell believed in supporting children because they are tomorrow’s leaders, parents and library users. Some of her fondest memories were of times spent in libraries, both as an adult and as a child. She discovered the Seattle Library when she was eight years old — it became her second homeShe lived by instructions from her grandmother, who told her if she wanted to have friends she needed to offer friendship, which she did to many people on Whidbey Island.
Mrs. Bell was a member of South Whidbey Soroptimists, the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club, Friends of the Freeland Library, the South Whidbey American Legion and Eagles Auxiliary, and was an active community volunteer who gave much of her time and energy. She was awarded the Dorothy Cleveland Award for community service in June 2002.
Her husband, James L. Bell, preceded her in death in 1974.
Mrs. Bell is survived by her brother and sister-in-law, Malcolm and Doris Harris; daughters Lois Tuller and Virginia Olson; son Bruce A. Bell of Freeland; grandchildren Scott Labrum, Debbie and Brian Harpe, James and Verlie Labrum, Brandi and Joe Morgan; and seven great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Aug. 13, 2 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Freeland Library.
Funeral arrangements are through Visser Funeral Home in Langley.