Sometimes there is the death of someone, who even though you knew them only slightly or saw them only occasionally, it jars you because you suddenly realize that they have indeed had an influence in your life. Joe Bell was one of those Spur exiles that held such an allegiance to his hometown and school that he seldom, if ever, missed a Spur Homecoming. Unfortunately he will miss the Spur 100 Centennial celebration this year October 8-10 during Spur Homecoming, and I for one will miss him. Joe died on Thursday in Odessa where he now lived.
Joe was a few years older than my parents and I always knew him by stories they told and the fact that he was one of the Spur “Bells” who used to operate Bell’s Cafe in downtown Spur which I remembered for fantastic open-face burgers with a superb brown gravy. They don’t make them like that anymore, at least not anywhere I have found.
I gathered from my parents’ stories that Joe was a character–one who was a bit of a bad boy but one who had a good heart and loved Spur with undying devotion. It was decades later that I would run across Joe in my own adult life. Working for Kimberly-Clark Corporation, I ran across Joe in a United grocery store in Lamesa. He was a manager. He was kind to me, treating me especially good just because I was from Spur.
Another decade later I encountered Joe again after purchasing the Texas Spur and moving back to my hometown of Spur. A few years later, Joe contacted me because of his involvement in establishing a rehabilitation center for alcoholics and drug addicts at White River Lake. I attended the grand opening of that facility and covered it for the Texas Spur. That’s when I learned of his compassion for those recovering from addiction. Joe exercised God’s grace because it had been shown to him. His obituary in the Odessa American quotes, ” ‘No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experiences can benefit others.” - Big Book of AA’ ” And they certainly did.
Joe was a dedicated person who loved not just Spur but those whose lives he touched. While I may be a “hometown girl” who came back to contribute to my community of upbringing, I only hope to be the “hometown girl” that Joe was a “hometown boy.”
God love you, Joe. You will be missed!