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Judy Bell, my passionate, determined and wonderful friend

Judy Bell in her kitchen in the 70s. Village News/Courtesy photo

My friend and co-worker Judy Bell passed away recently. Death is like the ultimate reminder to hold those we care about dear. Judy and I had planned an extended visit this month that we were both really looking forward to. She was going to stay for 2 months.

Judy was more than a nice person. She was a very passionate person, about a lot of things. Cooking, her family, her friends and the Village and Valley News.

One of the reasons she loved to cook was because she knew that people feel cared for when you cook for them and feed them.

For 25 years she was a cheerleader for the Village and Valley News. She lived in Illinois the last decade, but she continued to talk to us by phone and offer to help train marketing people, make phone calls and do whatever was in her power. And she did it with enthusiasm. Always with enthusiasm because, as she would tell you, "It's a choice." She would choose to have a good day, even when she was in pain.

She would choose to serve those around her with a good attitude. She was always the mentor. She wanted to invest in other people. I feel like I benefited from her mentoring the most. The first time I met Judy Bell, she walked into my office with a plate of brownies and lavender tied with a ribbon on each one and announced, "You need me!" I was amused enough (and chocolate is my favorite) to say, "Okay! Tell me more."

She wanted to be the food editor. The person who was giving us recipes wasn't doing a stellar job, according to Judy, who should know. She had a master's degree in nutrition and had studied cooking under a Betty Crocker internship.

Judy Bell at her home in Illinois in 2023. Village News/Courtesy photo

When we talked and I told her what we really needed was marketing, she explained with excitement how that wasn't a problem and how she was also an expert marketer. And over the years she proved it.

Subscribers who have been with us over 20 years will remember our "Village On A Diet" that was very successful and was written up in Redbook Magazine, which of course Judy arranged.

I am so thankful for all the people in my community who have come alongside us at the paper and personally made such a difference in our lives, and Judy Bell was one of those.

I strived to learn from her to take on impossible challenges with a great attitude, to pursue new adventures and to unashamedly love and serve God and those around us. Judy was generous, and a strong personality too. I admired that as well. I miss her so much already.

One of her desires was to publish a cookbook, which she was working on when she passed away. We are trying to figure out how to make that still happen.

Rest in peace, Judith Dorrell Bell.


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