John William “Bill” Bell, 85, of Colfax, passed away peacefully Friday, Aug. 2, 2019, at his home. A funeral Mass will begin at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Colfax. Burial will take place at Greencastle Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6 at the church. There will be a vigil service beginning at 5 p.m. at the church. Memorials may be directed to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church or the Colfax Ambulance Association. Condolences may be left for the family at coburnfuneralhomes.com.
Bill was born to Thomas Arthur and Helen (Beals) Bell Jan. 6, 1934. He graduated from Colfax High School in 1952. He enlisted in the United States Navy and served from 1956 to 1957 and was honorably discharged. He then returned to work at Maytag. Bill started his employment at the Maytag factory in 1954, until his retirement in 1991 after 36 years. While working at the factory, he was also a farmer, raising cattle and crops. He loved his herd of cattle and spent a lot of time with them, especially during the winter months when he would feed them hay and make sure they had water, even in blizzards and below-freezing temperatures. He always thought of his fellow co-workers at Maytag as a second family. He held many of them as friends for the rest of his life. In 1959, he met the love of his life, Wanda Stier. They were married in 1960. They immediately started a family having four children in three years. He was a very hard worker and made it through the tough times knowing that hard work and long days would benefit his family and future. After retirement, he and Wanda enjoyed traveling and visiting relatives. They spent many trips traveling to states that had a city named Colfax and would visit that city. They always made sure they drove by the state capitols, snapping a picture as they went.
He and Wanda both liked to play pool and would go out to many bars to have a beer and fun with their friends. He continued to do this after Wanda passed away. He was known far and wide for his stops at small-town bars. He had a routine and people would know what night he would be at each bar. In many bars, he would be greeted with “Hello Pappy.” He will truly be missed by all his friends at each and every bar he visited. He was also known by the many hats he wore. Everyone would want to read the sayings on them and everyone had their favorite one. He could always tell a good story and loved to share them with everyone. He never lacked for something to talk about. He spent many days cutting and splitting wood to heat his house in the winter. He could be found at the woodpile splitting and loading his wood into his wheelbarrow to stack in his basement. He loved to be outdoors and would cut wood year-round. He also spent winters dedicated to feeding the birds and squirrels and would walk through deep snowdrifts and cold weather to feed them. He would then sit at his table putting puzzles together and watching the birds. He took pictures of the completed puzzles and shared them with everyone. He also put together numerous DaVinci kits that his nephew Erin bought him. When Wanda was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007, he was with her at all her appointments and treatments. He was by her side when she passed away in April 2009. They were lovingly married for 49 years. He was very appreciative of the caring and support of his sister-in-law, Mary Ann Ward and nephew Erin. They invited him to Sunday dinners and holidays after the loss of Wanda.
Those left to honor his memory are his children, Karen McKee of Davenport, William Bell of Colfax, Robert Bell of Colfax and Barb (Dwight) Birkenholtz of Colfax; his grandchildren, Emily McDonnell, Breia Bell and Mallory Bell; and three great-grandchildren, Tyler, Marisa and Mason McDonnell. Also surviving are his brother, James Bell of Des Moines; sister, Sharon (Jerry) Briles of Prairie City; his sisters-in-law, Mary Ann (the late Jack) Ward of Colfax and Rosalie (Harold) Bissell of Waukee; several nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, great-great-nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Wanda in 2009; his sister, Betty McClelland; and sister-in-law, Mary Bell.