Cover photo for David Harrison Bell's Obituary
David Harrison Bell Profile Photo

David Harrison Bell

February 13, 1929 — September 28, 2023


David Harrison Bell passed away September 28, 2023, at the age of 94. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 67 years Josephine Gay (Bonney) Bell. Dave and Gay are survived by their sons Steve Bell (wife Mary) and Chris Bell (wife Linda), along with 8 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Dave was born as an only child to Roy and Edna (Hollingsworth) Bell February 13, 1929, in Winfield, KS, and moved to Johnson County, KS, in 1933. Following high school, Dave joined the Naval Air Reserve as a belly gunner for the PBY Catalina amphibious aircraft stationed in Olathe, KS. This likely fueled Dave’s fascination for military aviation history, frequently visiting museums as part of his many travels.

Dave was a talented architect, graduating from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture in 1956. Throughout his 52-year career, he designed many enduring buildings in the Kansas City area and throughout the country. However, their iconic mid-century modern home that he designed and built in Prairie Village, KS, where they lived from early marriage until moving to Lakeview Village in 2006, was a true expression of his personality.

Besides work and family, Dave’s primary passions were sailing, growing flowers, and painting. He built his first sailboat, a Dutch shoe, and over decades of sailing eventually owned his favorite sailboat, a Chrysler 26, on which he and Gay spent countless weekends at Lake Perry Yacht Club (42-year member). Family and friends enjoyed various sailing adventures with him from calm and occasionally windy sailing days, racing in regattas, and overnight anchoring in coves to very memorable junior sailing lessons for local grandchildren. As the many caring staff at Lakeview can attest, he spent endless days watching sailing videos on his ever-present iPad.

When not at the lake, Dave could be found in his expansive flower gardens. His award-winning roses were his favorite and led him to serve as president of the Johnson County Rose Society. During their extensive travels, Dave would seek out nearby gardens and fill albums with flower photos. After becoming a Master Gardener, he enjoyed volunteering at Deanna Rose Farmstead and other projects and was often sought after for gardening advice. Their backyard was spectacular thanks to his countless hours and expertise. When they downsized to their Lakeview Village duplex, he transformed the landscape to be one of the prettiest yards in the complex.

When no longer able to sail, Dave took up watercolor painting. He painted hundreds of watercolor scenes. Though always his own worst critic, others thought even his ‘rejects’ were beautiful, and many family, friends, and staff have his artwork displayed in their homes. For a while the joke was that he had a successful cottage industry in the care center due to the flood of staff requesting paintings of their pets. For his 90th birthday party, the family displayed all of his paintings and had an ‘art auction’; it was fun for him to see who in the family received which pieces of his work.

Gay was the light of his life; he loved her spunk and humor. They met on a blind date in college in 1950 and married in 1954 in Denver, CO. Together they had a full, social, serving, interesting, and busy life. Gay’s stroke in 2010 devastated her ability to process and communicate, causing Dave to unexpectedly become her full-time caregiver for eight years until she transferred to the care center 8/23/2018. Dave spent every day at the care center with her. Chris would occasionally bring her to their duplex to visit Dave; the sweetest sight was them sitting on the loveseat together like a date after Dave’s affectionate greeting of “Hi, Kid” and a big smile. Once Covid lockdowns prevented Dave from visiting Gay, he moved into the care center to be with her 9/10/2020. The timing was perfect since he had finished radiation treatment for esophageal

cancer and was very weak. Once again, their chairs were side-by-side where he was often seen holding her hand. She seemed very comfortable with his presence, and he protectively oversaw her care until Gay passed away 7/15/2021 at the age of 90. The steadfast, loving commitment of a husband for his wife impacted all who watched and is the best testimony of who he was.

Dave was also a faithful member of Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, serving as a deacon there for several years. He and Gay loved working at the church’s computer and food pantry ministries for many years.

Over the years, Dave touched many lives with his humor, congeniality, and intellect; he was well-respected, and his mind was sharp to the end. Although not naturally given to expressing affection to anybody other than Gay, he loved his family and enjoyed the banter and attention of nurses, aides, therapists, and beyond. In his final weeks, Dave expressed deep gratitude for the many special people who cared for and loved him, making his final years more bearable with the loss of Gay and personal mobility.

Dave will be deeply missed. His humor, talents, and example of committed love will be forever appreciated and admired.

On Wednesday, October 4th, family prayer and burial will be at 1:00 PM at Oaklawn Cemetery in Olathe, KS, followed by a Celebration of Life service for family and friends at 3:00 PM at Lakeview Village Heritage Activity Center, 9100 Park Street, Lenexa, KS, with a pastor from his church officiating.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of David Harrison Bell, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Starts at 3:00 pm (Central time)

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Lakeview Village Heritage Activity Center, KS), Lenexa

9100 Park Street
Lenexa, KS 66215

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