Charles Charlie Miller Bell

December 19, 1949February 25, 2014

Charles Miller Bell of West Skyline Parkway passed away unexpectedly in the morning of Tuesday, February 25th. He was the son of Thomas G. Jr. and Elinor (Spicer) Bell and great grandson of Charles Miller after whom the Miller Trunk Highway was named. Charlie was very proud to be a sixth generation Duluthian. He was born in Duluth on December 19th, 1949, 20 seconds ahead of his twin-sister Kate. Charlie grew up in West Duluth where he became an Eagle Scout at the age of 14. In 1964, he headed south to attend Shattuck School where he graduated high school in 1968. He graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1972 with a degree in Political Science and then attended St. Cloud State University on the way to the University of Minnesota School of Mortuary Science. Charlie was a partner with two of his brothers, Tom and Frank, in Bell Brothers/Jarvi-Dowd Funeral Homes until they sold both in 1998. Through the tutelage of his father and grandfather, Charlie was fortunate to serve on many Boards and Committees throughout his life. He focused on youth, schools, senior living, and economic development most notably in the West Duluth area. Charlie was grateful to have the pleasure of serving with so many leaders who gave from their heart and helped define the soul of our community. Charlie was also very proud of some experiences in his personal life. In 1992, at Jack Meade Gun Club, he shot on a perfect squad, where all five shooters scored a perfect 25. He once one-putted the first eight holes while playing a round of golf with his brother Tom and twin-sister Kate at LaQuinta CC in Palm Springs, CA, birdied holes #9 & #10 in a row while playing a round of golf at Northland Country Club with his brother Frank and son Charlie, and eagled hole #9 in another round at Northland County Club while playing with his son Charlie after going into the first sand trap on the left off the tee. A less glamorous memory came from a round of golf in Denver with his three brothers, Tom, Frank, & Steve, when he hit one of the tee markers on the tee box and the ball flew backwards across the road behind them. He was also very proud to admit that his twin sister has had 7 holes-in-one and he had none. After completing the motorcycle training course at Lake Superior College, Charlie bought his first motorcycle (a Harley-Davidson Fatboy) at the age of 62. Aside from his three children and one grandson, there were two honors that he was particularly proud of and that was being inducted into the Shattuck School Hockey Hall of Fame and the Duluth Hall of Fame.

Charlie was preceded in death by his parents Thomas G. Jr. and Elinor Bell.

He is survived by what he referred to as the three bonuses of his life; daughter Nicole D., son Charlie M. II, and daughter Natalie E., his grandson Ian A. Lewendowski, his brothers and sisters; Thomas G. III (Micki), Frank S., Barbara B. Gundersen, Stephen P., and his twin-sister Kate B. Johnson, what he has often referred to as the greatest collection of nephews and nieces who made him so proud and laugh so often, and of course his and his son’s beloved dog River.

Charlie enjoyed many famous quotes throughout his life, one in particular was “A Faith in The Power Of Resilience And Hope”, and another was a one word quote used by Sir Winston Churchill while signing his letters, where he simply wrote…..”Onward”.

There will be a public visitation for those wishing to say good-bye and pay their respects from 4 to 7 pm on Thursday, at the Asbury United Methodist Church at 6822 Grand Ave. There will be a private service on Friday. The family prefers Memorials directed to the Boys & Girls Clubs - Overman Family Scholarship Fund, the Scottish Rite Foundation, the Boy Scouts of America-Voyageur Council, the Asbury United Methodist Church – Asbury Foundation, or donors choice.



  • Public Visitation Thursday, February 27, 2014


  • Private Funeral Service

Charles Charlie Miller Bell

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Carolyn Cannon VanderBeek

March 25, 2015

It is now over a year later and I am still shocked and deeply saddened. I still talk to Charlie. Crushing to realize I will never again hear his voice or laugh. I hear both clearly in memory and that will have to do until I see him again. I miss not being able to pick up the phone and talk to him and I miss picking up the phone when he would call and we would gab like hens and no subject was off limits. Sometimes an hour or two would go by. I miss him more than I can say, my most excellent friend.

Jim Schober

March 13, 2014

Bell family, We're very sorry for your sudden loss. Our hearts and prayers go out to you all. Jim and Becky Schober

March 8, 2014

Charlies parents were good friends of my parents. We lived by them in West Duluth and I went to kindergarten with Katie and Charlie. The last time I saw Charlie was in 2002 when we buried my mother Grace Bothun. He stopped by the church to say hello and extend his sympathy. So sorry for your loss.
Linda DuBey (Bothun)

Carolyn Cannon VanderBeek

March 4, 2014

To Charlie's Children - I am so very sorry for your loss and I know it is huge. Charlie loved you and was so proud of all of you. We often spoke of you to the point that I felt as if I was getting to know each of you. Whenever he spoke of you, I could feel his smile through the phone lines. I teased him when I said he gave his son the name of a king. He said "he is a king" and his daughters "princesses". I met Natalie once and your father beamed as he looked at her. You lost your father way too soon. I lost my father before I turned 30 - but I still talk to him, almost on a daily basis. Your father is still with you and always will be. There will be brighter days ahead, I promise. Keep him safe in your hearts.

Carolyn Cannon Vanderbeek

March 3, 2014

I have loved Charlie since the fall of 1967 when we met at Shattuck. Even then, Charlie knew who he was and where he was going. I admired that so much because I had not a clue where I was going. He was an old soul at such an early age with his clarity about the future. I am so very grateful that for the past 14 years, Charlie and I stayed in touch. I can see his smile and hear his giggle. What a treasure he was to all of us and he lived with such joy and appreciation. I am in shock and the world will be less for the loss of his footsteps. I have not seen Tom, Frank, or Kate in years. I saw Barb in 2000, along with Charlie's surprise visit. I saw Steve in January and he flashed that famous Bell smile. I am grateful for the Bells being a part of my life, in spite of lengthy time lapses. Charlie and Barb were the glue. Please know that I will always hold Charlie close to my heart. He was a blessed gift. My heart is breaking.

Gary & Marilyn Gundry

March 2, 2014

Dear Charlie,
Our hearts are broken.
Little did we know some 40 years ago, when you and Gary started roofing for the School Board, that you'd be such an important part of our lives. No matter how busy your life was, you always had time for us.
Thank you for; encouraging shy Gary to go to college and then join the fraternity (I think), for supporting our marriage as groomsman, keeping us on task as we toured Germany, giving Grandma Helen and Grandma Marge so much attention, that they were thrilled when you'd show up at the cabin, supporting and loving our children, introducing us to the bean bag game, now the biggest asset at the cabin, and for the 40+ years of memories in between.
We will miss you so much but know you will live on in those 3 beautiful children you raised. It's no wonder why you were so proud of them. Ya did good, Charlie.
We promise to do our best to help Carol through this, but if your bond hadn't been so strong, this wouldn't be so hard. It will be a tough summer without your Sunday morning coffee and rolls as you'd park that new beauty on your private patio parking lot.
In the words of our favorites, K.D. and Roy " We've been cry-y-y-y-ing over you".
With love always, The Gary Gundry Family

S Martell

March 1, 2014

Charlie once told me, "The longer we live the more we face the death of our friends and family. That's life." I feel blessed to have had Charlie for a dear friend these past 14 years and will try to live my life by his example.
His family is in my thoughts and prayers.

March 1, 2014

Dear Bell Family,

Charlie was a very good friend of my mother, Kay Kleffman. It was so many years ago and I don't remember for sure, but I believe they initially met through the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. My mother was actually the first paid employee hired to increase Chamber membership. Charlie and my mother developed a friendship that lasted for many years. Kay passed away from cancer, eight years ago March 1st.

Charlie was already retired from Bell Brothers but stepped in to help me with my mother's passing. I believe she made Charlie promise her that he would help me and I am so thankful she did and that Charlie was a man of his word. That in itself can be hard to find these days. Charlie took over from the start. Even before my mother passed, Charlie was there for her and I. He visited Kay when he could and checked in with me often. Charlie was actually out of town when my mother left this planet. He found out from brother Frank and came back to town and took over. I had some different ideas on how I wanted things done and Charlie let me go with it and helped me get it done. My mother's life celebration was everything I wanted it to be and that would not have happened without Charlie. But not only did Charlie orchestrate my mother's service, he helped me bury her.

My father had passed when I was a young girl and was buried in Montgomery, MN. My mother's wish was to be cremated, so with Charlie's council, I decided to bury her ashes in my father's grave. Charlie took care of that too. Bringing my mother's vault down and picking me up at my home in Plymouth.

I had decided to have a small graveside ceremony with my father's side of the family at the cemetery, as they did not make it to Duluth. Montgomery is a very rural area and Charlie and I got lost trying to find the cemetery. I was panicking and Charlie was the calm rock assuring me we would get there, which we did. It was a very cold, rainy day. My family was waiting for us with umbrella's and parkas. Charlie held a little service with prayer for us graveside. When the rest of my family went to shelter, Charlie stayed out with me as long as I needed, which was awhile. Finally, we had to lower the vault into the open grave. Even with sorrow, a comedic minute can sneak in. It was so wet and muddy, I held onto Charlie's trench coat as he was completely bent over the open grave trying to accomplish this task. I slipped and we came very close to toppling into that grave ourselves. But, we didn't and Charlie got it done.

Charlie took me by a military school he had attended down in that area on the drive home. I have spoken to him a couple of times since but that was the last time I saw Charlie. I will never forget that day or what he did for me during that difficult time. Ever.

For some reason unknown to us, Charlie's time on this planet was cut short too, at least for everyone that knew him. We lost a good man. But I know he is not feeling that, only we are. I can imagine my mother and Charlie will now be having coffee again, talking together about their families and what can be done better for Duluth.

My deepest sympathy,
Debbi Carlon

March 1, 2014

God said, "Charlie, take my hand and we will ride our bikes together."
James S. Larson, Biker and Funeral Director.

March 1, 2014

We were sad and shocked to hear about the huge loss of Charlie Bell. My son Chris West and Charlie Jr (Chuck) have been friends for many years. Charlie Sr was a wonderful person and did a lot for Western Duluth, his family,his friends,his neighbors and his church. Our deepest sympathy goes out to
the Bell family. Nancy and Sid Bruhjell Duluth and Alamo, TX