Robert L. Bell ’42, who for 35 years owned the copyright to the famed Max Ehrmann piece “Desiderata,” died on January 15, 2009, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Medford, Massachusetts.
He was born in Everett, Mass., on Jan 21, 1919, and graduated from Everett High School, where he lettered in football, was the class president, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame for football. After high school, he continued his education at Bridgton Academy, where he continued playing football and was inducted into that school’s Hall of Fame as well. He maintained his connection with Bridgton Academy by serving as a trustee for 15 years. In his final year at Bowdoin, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, he was awarded the Lucien Howe Prize as the member of the senior class who “has shown the highest qualities of conduct and character.” He joined the Navy after graduation and served in the Pacific Theater for four years, attaining the rank of lieutenant senior grade. He began his civilian career by working for nine years as a sales representative for greeting card companies before opening his own shop. For 18 years, he owned six greeting card stores. From 1955 to 1960, he served as vice president of Allied Publishers East Coast, and then as president of Bruce Humphries Publishers in Boston for the next seven years. He also worked as president and board chairman of Harvard Supply Co. He later became a book publisher and owner of Crescendo Publishing Co. in Boston. He enjoyed poker and backgammon and played tennis well into his 80s. He also liked the theater and swing dancing, and was a longtime member of Bellevue Golf Club in Melrose. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Rose E. (Hogan) Bell; two daughters, Marlene T. Bell and Christine C. Bell; two sons, Robert L. Bell Jr.’68 and Stephen J. Bell ’74; nine grandchildren, including Rebecca Bell ’92; four great-grandchildren; and a great- great-granddaughter. He was predeceased by two brothers, Joseph Bell and William Bell; two sisters, Olive Tobin and Ethel Brownlie; and a grandson, Scott Andre, who died in 1981 at age 16.