What’s in a dash? Several years ago, Reverend LeRoy Curtis Bell posed a question to his congregation at Calvary Apostolic Church in La Crosse, WI, a topic that he previously spoken on at a family funeral. He talked about the unassuming dash between the two dates on a headstone. This small, nearly imperceptible line represented the enormity of a person’s life. He then challenged his congregation to make the most out of their dash, living their life in a way that embraced Christ’s love for them. LeRoy was never one for empty words and years later, all who knew him can confirm that he lived his “dash” to the fullest. On January 25th, 2022 at the age of 79, surrounded by family, LeRoy passed on to his eternal reward.
LeRoy was born on June 11th, 1942 to Edward and Dorothy Bell of West Salem, and doting older sister, Shirley. He graduated from West Salem High School in 1961, after which he joined and served for 3 years in the Army where he wrote daily love letters to his high school sweetheart Karen Olson. The two were married in 1963 and eventually settled in Iowa where they had three children: Michelle (Shelley), Jeffrey, and Michael. Shelley (Kevin Shirel) was their oldest and inherited her dad’s quiet strength and peaceable nature. Jeff (Miekka) followed in his father’s footsteps, joining the Army and embodied his father’s commitment to family and loyalty to those he loves. Mike (Angela) inherited his father’s sensitive nature and genuine desire to help those around him. Both boys would argue that they inherited their father’s good looks, who was known for saying in jest, “Why are you so ugly and I’m so good looking?” Most certainly, all three of his children share his desire for a lush green yard and beautiful flowers. His oldest grandchildren, Courtney (Cory), Tyler (Shalwa), and Madison (Brett), recall his meticulous red geraniums lining the front sidewalk, his amazing beef-stroganoff, morning (or afternoon/evening) coffee breath, his sarcastic humor, and his gray “grandpa” sweater…ever present at the breakfast table. His younger grandsons, Camden and Owen, recall his humorous nature and the twinkle in his eye as he called them ‘Herman Schlabberdacher.’ These memories, and countless others, will be passed along to his youngest granddaughters Adelaide, Eloise, Joyce, and Ruby alongside his great granddaughters Sophie and Marley.
To Karen, LeRoy was her rock and the true love of her life. Their children and grandchildren were blessed to have front row seats to the kind of love and devotion that you read about in fairy tales. She was his constant companion for 58 years. Their marriage truly stood the test of time, surviving the “baby bottle” incident of 1965, a devastating house-fire in 1976, and in the later years of their marriage, LeRoy’s job with Fiserv which necessitated frequent traveling. Ever the driver and car enthusiast, Karen was found by LeRoy’s side…in the driver’s seat of course. When LeRoy was called to pastor in La Crosse, WI, Karen was at his side. When Alzheimer’s and a stroke required him to reside at Bethany St. Joseph’s Care Facility in 2017, Karen was at his side…daily, for hours, feeding him lunch, getting him dressed, giving him his daily shave, and making sure LeRoy’s hair was at its best…parted on the correct “right” left side. The devotion they shared for each other is truly awe-inspiring and will remain a part of the legacy passed down to their children and grandchildren.
LeRoy was preceded in death by his parents Edward and Dorothy Bell, sister Shirley Thurston (Tom), and sister-in-law Kay Borreson (David).
Visitation will be held on Saturday, January 29th at Blaschke & Schneider Funeral Home in La Crosse from 10:00 am -12:00 pm with a private family committal ceremony following. In lieu of flowers, LeRoy wished for memorials to be made to New Beginnings (nbnow.org), an adoption agency that is uniquely special to the Bell Family. A Celebration of Life Service will be arranged at a later date.