NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Walter R. Bell, a former New Rochelle firefighter, died Sept. 30, surrounded by his family. He was 95.
Bell previously served as fire chief and then fire commissioner of the New Rochelle Fire Department.
He was born April 3, 1917, in New Rochelle. He graduated from New Rochelle High School in 1935 and started his career in New Rochelle fire service in August 1940. After serving as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, Bell resumed his duties with the New Rochelle Fire Department.
In November 1958, he was honored with a Class A Citation for rescuing a family from a burning building. Following the citation, Bell was named fire chief in July 1959. He then served for 20 years as the fire commissioner before retiring in 1979.
Bell received numerous awards from local organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, Masonic Lodge 1033, New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, United Way, Knights of Columbus 339, American Legion Post 8 and the YMCA.
In addition to his professional career with the fire department, Bell received a gubernatorial appointment to the state fire advisory board, was a member of the Larchmont Volunteer Fire Department, New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, Salvation Army, New Rochelle Day Nursery, Meals on Wheels delivery team, Larchmont Avenue Presbyterian Church and Rotary Club.
After 85 years in New Rochelle, Bell moved with his wife to Saratoga Springs to be near family. His wife of 67 years, Florence Miller Bell, predeceased him.
He also was predeceased by a daughter, Barbara Bell Pickett; and a son-in-law, Robert W. Wanninger. He is survived by three children, Joan (Howie Bashant) Arons, Richard (Monica) Bell and Wendy Bell Wanninger; 10 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.
Visitation is from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Friday at George T. Davis Funeral Home in New Rochelle. There will be a memorial Service at 11 a.m. at the funeral home. Burial will immediately follow at Beechwoods Cemetery in New Rochelle.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donation may be made to the Walter R. Bell Scholarship Fund.