Obituary of Jerry Bell
Jerry Bell was born on March 26, 1946, in Washington, DC. He was the son of Irma Lee and Hope Patrick Bell. Jerry was the youngest of two boys and one girl. He was preceded in death by his father and mother, sister, Delores Bell who died in infancy, and brothers, Morris Bell and Joseph Scott.
Jerry attended District of Columbia Public Schools graduating from Anacostia High School in 1964. After graduating from high school, he attended Fayetteville College in Fayetteville, North Carolina and later transferred to District of Columbia Teachers College. While at D.C. Teachers College, he pledged Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. He left college to accept a position with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Throughout his childhood, teen and early adult years, he made many friends – friends like Curtis Hoyle, Gregory Jackson, Lacy and Larry Brown and Freddie and Linda Brown. He was known as one who enjoyed life. Jerry loved traveling, deep sea fishing, socializing (partying in his younger days), barbequing, playing cards with his family and friends, scary movies, and visiting wax museums.
It was while he was out “socializing” and having a good time that he met his future wife, Esther Barbee. They were married November 11, 1972, in Durham, North Carolina. Two children were born to this union, one daughter, Kera Zakiyah, and one son, Jerláno Ankomah. Jerry was a devoted family man. He loved planning family excursions and experiences to enrich his children’s lives. Every year, Jerry, Kera and Jerláno did the eight-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge walk. He loved spending summers at the beach at Ocean City, Maryland and Chincoteague, Virginia with his family; taking road trips to Walt Disney World in Florida; visiting the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History; viewing the Fourth of July fireworks at the Washington Monument; attending the national Christmas tree lighting on the Mall; and sledding wherever he and the children could find a good hill.
Jerry held several jobs over the years beginning with the U.S. Postal Service in Special Delivery. He was later employed as an electronics technician with the Federal Aviation Administration. Jerry was a problem-solver, resilient, passionate, and loved learning. He utilized all of these traits when he joined Primerica as an agent. He ended his working years at the National Institutes of Health in security.
Jerry was a storehouse of information on a plethora of topics. If he did not know enough information on a topic, he researched it. He loved to talk about burning issues of the day and could definitely hold his own in a debate. He also liked to be a jokester and was always ready with humorous quips or retorts.
He was helpful and a regular Mr. Fix-it. He was also very competitive. When he visited his nieces and nephews, he would always initiate a game of Spades. He delighted in winning; and, if by chance, he lost a hand, he insisted that they play another until he emerged as the victor.
Jerry moved to Dayton, Ohio on November 3, 2016. He lived with his daughter and her family until his health began to decline. He entered Riverside Healthcare Center where the family would visit him regularly. These visits were filled with fun, games and conversation. Together they sang songs, listened to Motown songs, played games, watched television and talked about his grandson Ayden’s progress in school. He contracted COVID-19 in October, 2020, from which he recovered, but he was never the same physically and mentally. He was then transferred to Wood Glen Alzheimer’s Community. There he got to know Brian Hinkle who got to know him and regularly ministered to him along with Jerry’s son-in- law, Maurice.
When he turned 70, Jerry told Kera that he wanted to go bike riding even though he had not ridden a bike in forty years. There is a saying that once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget. Well, that did not apply to Jerry. He took a tumble after riding a short distance…BUT he got his wish. In March 2021, he was able to celebrate his 75th birthday with his children, son-in-law, grandson, sister, and niece, Kimberly. It was a blessed time filled with fellowship, joy, laughter, and love.
Although Jerry had adversities and health challenges in his later years, he knew he was loved – his daughter, Kera, made sure of that. He passed away peacefully on Wednesday, August 4, 2021, surrounded by his family. He leaves to mourn his loss, a devoted daughter, Dr. Kera Z. Watkins (Maurice), son, Jerláno A. Bell, grandson, Ayden Watkins, sister, Marcella Coleman, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
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