Reaction To Ella Bell’s Passing
For almost two decades, Ella Bell served on the Alabama State School Board of Education, representing District 5. The 71-year-old passed away Sunday morning.
The loss is being felt across the state, including Montgomery. State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said her passing is heartbreaking.
“Certainly, it’s a big loss for us here at the department. It’s a big loss for this school board. More importantly, though, it’s a big loss for children in the 5th district. She was a certain advocate for children in her district,” Mackey said.
Bell had served on the State Board for 19 years and was first elected in 2000. She was known for being a warrior for the poverty-stricken areas in her district, and for children with dyslexia.
“She was spunky, and sassy and wonderful. She was everything- when she walked into a room, you knew it,” parent Christie Aitken said.
Aitken says her family’s relationship with Bell goes back a few years– when the family got to know her through conversations about dyslexia services in the state. Bell helped give Aitken’s 17-year-old son Beau, who has dyslexia, a seat at the table of those conversations.
” I knew how we both- we just loved her. And I knew how he was going to feel. But the first thing he said was ‘It’s okay, she’s in so much of a better place,'” Aitken said.
Bell received her bachelors from Tuskegee University in 1969, a master’s degree from Alabama State University in 1974, and had pursued doctoral work at the University of Alabama.
Apart from her school board seat, Bell was heavily involved in a wide range of organizations, including non-profits and democratic conferences. As many take time to remember Bell’s legacy, her loss is one that some say will leave a big hole to fill.
“She was involved in her church, she was involved in the community, involved in city politics back for decades. Her loss in going to be felt all across this community,” Mackey said.
Bell’s funeral arrangements have not yet be announced.