William Henry Bell, 85, salesman for U.S. Steel

April 20, 2005

William Henry Bell, a retired steel salesman, died of a heart attack April 13 at St. Agnes Healthcare. He was 85 and had been active in the affairs of Charlestown Retirement Community.

Born in Los Angeles, and raised in Montclair, N.J., he earned a bachelor of science degree in commerce from the University of Virginia and attended Harvard University's Advanced Communications School.

His work as a U.S. Steel Corp. salesman was interrupted by Navy service during World War II. As a communications officer aboard the destroyer USS Adams, he participated in the Okinawa invasion. He attained the rank of lieutenant.

He returned to U.S. Steel after the war, and had positions in various East Coast cities including Baltimore. He retired in 1982 as director of consulting services for its engineers and consultants division. He moved that year to Arnold, and later to Severna Park.

He became a docent and board member for Historic Annapolis Foundation and helped develop a tape-recorded walking tour narrated by Walter Cronkite. He was also a tour guide at the B&O Railroad Museum from 1982 to 2000.

After moving to the retirement community in Catonsville, he became active in suggesting additions and improvements there.

"When he had an idea, he was persistent and worked hard to bring it into fruition," said Janet Shaw, a member of Charlestown's board of directors.

He helped establish a residents' emergency telephone response system, successfully lobbied Baltimore County officials to have a traffic signal installed on Maiden Choice Lane at the Charlestown entrance, worked to have a lift for disabled residents installed at the community swimming pool and developed a Getting Around Safe and Sound driving skills program for residents.

Plans for a memorial service at Charlestown are incomplete.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, the former Elizabeth Hudson; a son, William Henry Bell of Takoma Park; three daughters, Marcia R. Bell of Mill Valley, Calif., Nancy B. Massey of Hernando, Miss., and Patricia S. Bell of San Rafael, Calif.; and six grandchildren.

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