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Mrs. Catherine "Katie" O'Neil Bell

Obituary for Mrs. Catherine "Katie" O'Neil Bell

July 4, 1923 - August 9, 2020
San Antonio, Texas | Age 97


Catherine O'Neil Bell (Katie) died on August 9, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas. Katie was born on July 4, 1923 in Calumet, Michigan (on the "south shore of Lake Superior" as she liked to tell everyone), the first child of James O'Neil and Katherine Torreano O'Neil. She was joined two years later by her sister Marion who always wondered why there were fireworks, parades, and picnics on Catherine's birthday, but not hers!

Katie graduated from Calumet High School and began her nursing studies in Duluth, Minnesota at the College of St. Scholastica. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

While working a summer job at the Keweenaw Country Club she briefly met John Frederick Bell (Fritz) who had been doing research on Isle Royal (he was an MD- PhD virologist). They met again later at a wedding and that began a long-distance courtship culminating in their marriage May 3, 1947. Their first home was in Bethesda, MD where Fritz, a commissioned officer in the USPHS, began work at the National Institutes of Health. Their son Michael was born in Bethesda. In 1949 they moved to Hamilton, MT where Fritz continued his research at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory. Their daughter Martha was born there in 1951. Katie was very involved in her community. She was a club-champion golfer, a skier, a member of the League of Women Voters (serving a full term as Secretary of the Montana State chapter), the Ravalli County Democratic Women and St. Francis Parish (where she was the first elected president of the Parish Council). She also loved the travel that Fritz's work offered them. They especially enjoyed their assignments in Argentina and Kenya.

Katie continued to live in Hamilton after Fritz's death in 2000. Later, as winters became more difficult to manage alone, she transitioned to San Antonio to be closer to her daughter and family. For the last eight years she made her home at Brookdale in Alamo Heights where the staff gave her the best care imaginable and where her daughter could visit almost every day.

Katie is survived by her son Mike Bell and wife Anne, their children Ryan Bell and Erin Bell Rubin and grandchildren Evan Bell, Quinn and Westly Rubin. She is also survived by her daughter Mardi Bell Baron and husband Bob, their children Mary Baron and Michael Baron, and grandchildren Jacob, Robert and Gregory Johnson and Louis Baron.

Katie's ashes will be placed with Fritz's on their former farm in Montana. The family will hold services there when travel is once again safe for everyone.

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Porter Loring Mortuary

1101 McCullough Avenue
San Antonio, TX 78212
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