Kay Bell

Published 11:50 am Friday, December 28, 2018

Kay Evelyn Stephenson Bell was born on Nov. 27, 1942, in Columbus, Miss., and passed away on Dec. 25, 2018 in Franklinton.

Between her birth and death, Kay lived. She created a handsome family with John William Bell III, complete with two handsome sons, John William (Bill) Bell IV and Michael Stephenson Bell.

Kay was a Mississippi high school state tennis champion who then played college level tennis while obtaining her degree in fine arts while at Mississippi State College for Women (MSCW).

On June 29, 1963, Kay married the love of her life, John William Bell III. They lived in Franklinton for most of their 55 years of married life. While John William worked on the road as an electrical engineer, Kay taught Talented Art while giving golf, art and tennis lessons.

In the bicentennial year of 1976, Kay had a painting that traveled the country on the Freedom Train. What an achievement for any of us, especially an artist of her talent!

Kay attended Centenary United Methodist Church and Hillcrest Baptist Church, having dear friends at both.

Kay had the gift of encouragement and a serving heart. She strongly believed in community involvement serving as Country Club President for several years, Chairman of the Library Board, President of the Waverly Club for two years, as a member of the Magnolia Belles and last, and certainly not least as Chairman of the Washington Parish Free Fair Art Building for over twelve years.

Kay built a fair family beginning on the rodeo committee and painting backdrops for the stage. That led to another 42 years on the state committee, including the year fair headliner Ray Stevens “was fortunate enough to have Kay drive him back to the airport in New Orleans.” Kay also spent many years as a judge, exhibitor and chairwoman for numerous youth and adult art shows. A talented art teacher, Kay and her students painted many fair backdrops and projects. She created fair posters, catalog covers, billboards, signs, and backdrops for displays, tee shirts, commemorative stamps, maps, and even a coloring book for the playground.

Kay also lent her time and talents to the flower house, education and agriculture buildings, the poster, hospitality, stage planning and billboard committee as well as Old McDonald’s Farm.

As stated by Wayne Kuhn at the banquet to Honor Kay, “You often see Kay’s work through the fairgrounds without even knowing it. She truly has her fingerprints all over the Washington Parish Fair.”

Many people we’ve visited with in the last week have spoken of Kay with great fondness, describing her as a great friend and encourager, full of laughter and love for so many.

Most of Franklinton knew Kay Bell as a “great encourager.” Kay was really a true friend in our community. She celebrated other’s achievements and happy moments with them and then offered words of support and kindness during difficult times,” further stated by Wayne Kuhn at Kay’s Honor Banquet.

In the end, we remember Kay for the wonderful person she was, creating a life that allowed her to spend time with her dearly beloved husband, John William and her sons, Bill and Steve, while fitting her love of her friends and community into her passion for life.

We’ll close with Kay’s own original verse, “The Fair Volunteer.”

It’s not the critic that counts, but the one down in the fray.

The one, who rolls the posters, mucks the stalls, paints the signs, sweeps the porches, plays the music and cooks the food.

He tries and then fails and maybe not,

But he tries again, and again and finally says:

You can’t fire me. I’m a volunteer!

(Partial credit goes to Melissa Bienvenu of the Era-Leader, Wednesday, November 11, 2018.)

She is survived by: husband of 55 years, John William Bell III of Franklinton; son and Fiance, John William “Bill” Bell IV and Tonya Dingler of Sherwood, Ark.; grandson, John William “Jay” Bell V of Hot Springs, Ark.; brother-in-law, Richard Bell of Baton Rouge; nephews and nieces and their spouses, Jon Paul and Deborah Ewing, Beth Renee and Shariff Wookil, Scot and Jennifer Bell, Kelly and Irby Summerlin, and Todd and Kelli Bell; special friend, Theresa Simpson; and also numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends.

She was preceded in death by her son, Michael Stephenson Bell; parents, Finton Stephenson and Ruth Blalock Stephenson; sister and brother-in-law, Virginia and John Ewing; and nephew, Timothy Ewing.

Visitation was at Crain Funeral Home on Thursday, Dec. 27, from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., and after 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 28. A funeral service was held in the funeral home chapel at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28, with Dr. Gene Richards and the Rev. Tommy Smith officiating. Burial followed in the Morris Cemetery.

Pallbearers were Todd Bell, Dr. Johnny Burris, Johnnie Green and Rick Richardson. Honorary pallbearers were Jay Bell, Jon Ewing, Dick Richardson, Scot Bell, Dr. Mark James and Shariff Wookil.

Obituaries can be viewed online at www.crainfh.com.