Drummond C. Bell Sr., a Baltimore native who was retired chairman and chief executive officer of National Distillers Chemical Corp., died of respiratory failure Friday at Jupiter Medical Center in Florida. He was 87, and lived in Fairfield, Conn.
Raised on Linwood Avenue in East Baltimore, Mr. Bell was a 1934 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and attended the Johns Hopkins University and Loyola College.
He began his career as a stock clerk at the old Montgomery Ward & Co. catalog warehouse on Monroe Street in Southwest Baltimore. He rose through the ranks, and managed stores in Oregon before being appointed vice president of personnel at the company's headquarters in Chicago.
In 1956, he left Montgomery Ward and became assistant to the president of Bridgeport Brass in Bridgeport, Conn., which was purchased in 1961 by National Distillers and Chemical Corp. In 1970, he became chairman and chief executive officer of the company, best known for producing Old Crow, Old Granddad and Old Sunnybrook bourbons, as well as Gilbey's Gin and Vat 69 scotch.
Mr. Bell expanded the company's holdings in the liquor business with the purchase of Almaden Vineyards of California. He retired in 1986.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Trinity Episcopal Church in Southport, Conn.
Mr. Bell is survived by his wife of 62 years and childhood sweetheart, the former Ruth McCarthy; two sons, Drummond C. Bell III of Southport and Richard S. Bell of Greenwich, Conn.; a brother, Thomas Bell, and a sister, Jacqueline Karwacki, both of Baltimore; and six grandchildren.