Leonard D. Bell ’47 died on September 26, 2016, in Gray, Maine.
(The following was submitted by his family:)
Leonard David Bell, noted philanthropist, entrepreneur, and political activist, was born in Lewiston, Maine on January 19, 1927, and passed away at the age of 89 on October 5, 2016, in Highland Beach, Fl.
Leonard lived his first forty years in his native Maine where he graduated from Lewiston High School and attended Bowdoin College. He received a B.A. in 1947. An engaging and charismatic figure, he held many leadership roles on campus, including business manager of the school newspaper and chair of the Red Cross drive.
Bowdoin classmates remember his rambunctious fervor as a basketball cheerleader. At one big game Bell urged hundreds of excited fans to “gimme a B, gimme an O” and spelled it “BOWDIN.” It took fifteen minutes to clear the court of coats, jackets, and jubilation.
Upon graduation, Leonard and his brother, Irving, founded Rose Woven Label Company (later renamed Bell Manufacturing Company). He served as president and principle salesman, traveling widely and connecting with a network of business friends and colleagues.
He was always active in Maine community projects, Bowdoin alumni activities and charitable institutions. He held major leadership roles at Beth Jacob Synagogue and the Lewiston-Auburn Jewish federation.
He regarded himself as a very fortunate man, especially in meeting and marrying Phyllis Amsel in 1949. His highest priority was his family, especially their three children, Nanci, Wendy, and Jeffrey, son-in-law Steve Werdel and grandchildren Taylor, Samantha and Jeffrey James. Leonard’s extended family was vast, including many nieces and nephews, brother-in-law and sister-in-law and cousins. He was predeceased in life by his beloved brothers, Daniel and Irving Bell.
Moving to Boston in 1970, he founded Private Investment Placements of Boston and moved to Lexington, MA. For fourteen years he was partner and driving force of PIP. While in Boston he was extremely active in Combined Jewish philanthropy.
He became increasingly active in Jewish philanthropies and fundraising for Israel and held many national offices. He was a zealous advocate for the United Jewish Appeal, a founding member of its Young Leadership Cabinet, and National Chairman from 1965-1968. He also served on the board of the Jewish Agency (Jerusalem) as well as Joint Distribution Committee executive committee, and the Organization for Rehabilitation executive committee. Leonard worked closely with Sy Kenan in the 1960s on behalf of Israel and was one of the founding members of the current American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
His energy, abilities, and concern for public policies led him into national politics, working with and for Hubert Humphrey, Edmund Muskie, Bob Packwood, Paula Hawkins, Rudy Boschwitz, William Cohen, Mitch McConnell, and Bob Dole of Kansas, for whom he was a principle fundraiser. He dined in the White House with President Ronald Reagan.
Since 1984, a resident of Highland Beach, Florida, Leonard pursued civic works on the town planning board, library committee, and Historical Society, of which he was president. He continued to be active in the Young President Organization and the World Business Council.
Leonard Bell is remembered by his family, friends, and associates as a passionate, exuberant man, a dedicated and zealous advocate, and a compassionate, magnanimous person. No one who ever met Leonard Bell forgot him, and many were touched, moved, and inspired by him.