Rodney was born in New Bern on September 30, 1961, to Albert A. Bell and Lillie K. Bell. A 1979 graduate of New Bern High School, he earned a degree in Forest Management from Wayne Community College and began his career with the North Carolina Forest Service in Elizabeth City in 1982. He later transferred to New Bern as the District Ranger for District 4. He was also part of the statewide NCFS Incident Management Team for 10 years. After a career which included fighting forest fires in several states, responding to the aftermath of hurricanes, and working on the recovery team for the Space Shuttle, Rodney retired in 2010. After retirement he worked as a locksmith at Ernul’s Locksmith.
Rodney was an active, dedicated volunteer in the community; he was a Mason of St. John’s Lodge #3 and a Sudan Shriner. He was a past member of Button Company with the New Bern Fire Department and a past chief of the West New Bern Fire Department, of which he had been a member since 1990. He was a member of First Baptist Church of New Bern, where he has served as a deacon and a T-ball coach and was a member of the “A Team” cooking team as well as the Family Life Sunday School Class and Baptists on Mission.
Rodney loved to spend time with his family. He was happiest when camping and fishing, especially in the company of his two grandsons.
He was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Sheila Bell; his son, Josh Bell, and wife Katie; his grandsons, Wyatt Eugene Bell and Cason Adam Bell; his brother, Robert A. Bell and wife Joan, and his sister, Glenda Belcher.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, February 3, at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church of New Bern. A graveside service will follow at Greenleaf Cemetery, where the family will receive guests afterward.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Carolina East Foundation-Journey of Hope (2007 B Neuse Blvd., New Bern, NC 28562) or the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Foundation (P.O Box 144, Mocksville, NC 27028).
Cotten Funeral Home is honored to serve the family and friends of Rodney Bell.