Robert Noble Bell

March 24, 1939September 29, 2012

Robert "Bob" N. Bell , one of the city's best known newspaper reporters whose 40-plus year-career at the Indianapolis Star and News chronicled the careers of a generation of Hoosier political figures, died peacefully in his home on September 29, 2012. Bob was born on March 24, 1939.

Born the second oldest of 11 children to an Indianapolis policeman, Bob enrolled in St. Meinrad, A Roman Catholic seminary, following his graduation from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic grade school.

After spending five years at St Meinrad, Bob left the seminary, entered and was graduated from Marian College in 1962.

Bob's newspaper career began in 1956 when he was hired as a copy messenger. His editors soon permitted him to help write obituaries and re-write press releases. When there was an opening, they hired him as a cub reporter and sent him down to the old police headquarters where he wrote stories ranging from tragedy to triumph.

When Sen. Richard G. Lugar was elected Indianapolis mayor, Bob was responsible for much of the day to day coverage of his administration. He also covered much of the administration of Mayor William H. Hudnut. Leaving city government reporting, Bob was assigned to state government covering governors Otis R. Bowen and Robert D. Orr. He covered eight sessions of the Indiana General Assembly and served as chief of the Star's legislative bureau.

In addition, he covered the U.S. District Courts, served as an assistant city editor and wrote a Sunday column on stamp collecting.

Bob was known for his extensive knowledge of city and state politics and was on a first name basis with governors, mayors and Republican and Democratic political party regulars ranging from powerful chairmen to precinct workers. Young reporters often sought his advice on the history of the city and its citizens.

The Indianapolis Press Club honored Bob by twice electing him president and tapping him to chair the club's annual Gridiron dinner where state and local political figures are lampooned. He had also served as president of Local 70, The Newspaper Guild.

Bob earned numerous journalism awards including citations from the United Press International for a series detailing irregularities and abuses in the federal Small Business Administration loan program. He was also a recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash Award in 1983, which is the highest honor the Governor of Indiana bestows. It is a personal tribute usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor.

In 1986, Bob joined other reporters in a two month investigation which listed, for the first time, the total compensation for the members of the legislature.

He was a former member of the Catholic Social Services board of directors. He was a member and usher of Christ the King Catholic Church. He was a frequent traveler to the Outer Banks in North Carolina with his family and delivered a dozen dough nuts to his grandchildren every Saturday morning since 1991.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 51 years, Patricia Ann Griffo Bell, children Ann (Brian) Collins, Maureen (Vince) Mifsud, Robert (Maren) Bell III, brothers James and Michael Bell, sisters Barbara, Ann and Maureen Bell, Martha Jean Young, Kathy Crabill, Karen VanBenthuysen, grandchildren Sean, Kevin and Erin Collins, Skylar and Aidan Mifsud and Liam Bell. Robert was preceded in death by his parents Robert Noble and Martha A. (Heffernan) Bell, brother Stephen Bell and sister Janet Brownlee.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be Thursday, October 4 at Christ the King Catholic Church at 11 am. Visitation will be from 4 - 8 pm on Wednesday, October 3 at Feeney-Hornak Keystone Mortuary. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Elizabeth/Coleman Pregnancy and Adoption Services.


  • Visitation Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Robert Noble Bell

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Gerrit Verplank

October 4, 2012

Growing up I split my time between my house and the Bells. The Bell house became my second home, and some of my fondest memories are of vacations with the family to the outer banks. My thoughts and deepest condolences are with the entire family. Bobby, Patty, Maureen, Ann; Bob was a great man, and you are all a testament to that.

l. j. (joe) beardsley

October 4, 2012

sorry to hear of bob's passing-i last saw bob as a student for 3 1/2 years at St.Meinrad, Ind.we were exposed to each other daily because of the alphabet. bea-bel i remember beardsley-bell-betz-blondin etc on the list. i'm glad to see he had a great career as a journalist-he was a super bright guy and we spent many hours with each other in & out of class. it was a great experience. i'm sure he'll be missed greatly by his family. i'm privileged to have known him. enjoy your rewards,bob,you earned them-joe

Erin Verplank

October 3, 2012

Bobby and family: My thoughts are with you during this difficult time. In knowing you all these years, I know how much of a crucial role your Dad played in the friend, father and husband you are today. Just know I am thinking of you and your family.

Natalina Bell

October 3, 2012

Dear Bob and family: Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time.
MIke, Ticha, Chris & Kyle Bell

October 3, 2012

Dear Patty,
As we watch Bobby with his own family, we realize what a wonderful family life you and Bob gave your children. May you be comforted by all of those cherished memories in the weeks to come. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Fondly, Jan and Jerry Denys

Heather Kestian

October 2, 2012

Bobby and Family,
My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Please know that I am thinking about you and your family. With My Sympathy, Heather Kestian

October 2, 2012

To Patty and the rest of Bob's family: very sorry to hear the news of Bob's passing. It was a pleasure to know and work with him. He had an upbeat outlook on life and gave me good advice over the years.

Today I have a mental picture of Bob, Bob Mooney, and Jep Cadou in my mind from a day when I was an intern entering The Star city room for the first time, and they sat banging away side-by-side at a row of typewriters, talking politics as they cranked out Bulldog copy. I can recall thinking, "now, here's where the action is."

Many happy memories followed for me of Bob, a good-hearted man--and you have so many, many more memories than I do. I know you cherish them.

Dennis Royalty
Colleague at The Star

October 2, 2012

Patty and family: A little part of all Star old-timers (otherwise known as"Geezers") is gone with Bob. From his days as a copy boy through his truly distinguished career as a reporter and editor, I have been proud to know him, and YOU! I have so many memories, especially of those late nights, it's impossible to sort out just one, but I hope you know that you are very much in my heart. I'm far away right now, but I'd be there if I could!--Lynn Hopper

Meagan Senesac

October 2, 2012

Bobby, we are so sorry for your loss. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help!

Cheryl Brown

October 2, 2012


You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.