January 15, 1933 - March 31, 2019
Rodney Ellis Bell was born in Bismarck, ND, on January 15, 1933, the son of George Dewey and Martha Pearl (Ellis) Bell and died March 31, 2019, at the Lodi Memorial Hospital in Lodi, CA. He graduated from Bismarck High School in 1951, and from Jamestown College, ND, in 1955. He received a Master of Arts (History) from the University of Michigan the following year before enlisting in the US Army Security Agency and completed his Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. He married his high school sweetheart, Fayne Dorean Patera, on December 29, 1956. While stationed at Fort Devens, MA, he was selected to attend the Army Language School in Monterey, CA. After graduation, he was assigned to the National Security Agency outside of Washington, DC, as a Chinese translator.
Rod began his doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh on an Andrew Mellon Fellowship in the Fall of 1959, and then returned to the University of Michigan on a Danforth Fellowship where he eventually completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree in History. He began his teaching career at his alma mater in Jamestown, ND, and in 1970, he accepted a position in the History Department at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. He became Head of the department in 1975, a title he held until his retirement in 2000. Rod and his wife moved to Lodi, CA, in 2004.
Rod is survived by his wife, Fayne, three daughters, Carolyn (Roy) Arnold of Wichita, KS, Elizabeth (Michael) Moreno of Stockton, CA and Kathleen (Kevin) Isbell of Walnut Creek, CA, one son Thomas (Jennifer) Bell, of Gig Harbor, WA, and his dearly loved grandchildren RJ (Raven) and Ryan Arnold, Katie and Kristine Moreno, Gavin and Sienna Isbell, and Andrew, Jason, Evan, Joshua and Rowan Bell.
Rod was preceded in death by his parents, his older brother, S/Sgt. George Dewey, Jr., who died in WWII, and an infant son, Gregory Drew.
A graveside service will be held at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Bismarck, ND, on Thursday, April 18, 2019.
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Cherokee Memorial is honored to serve the Bell family.