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Born: Feb 12, 1932

Date of Passing: Jan 13, 2020

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February 12, 1932 - January 13, 2020

The family of The Honourable Justice Ronald Dean Bell, Uncle Ron, is deeply saddened to announce his passing on January 13, 2020.
He was born in Deloraine, Manitoba on February 12, 1932 and educated in a one room school; he later attended Brandon College, graduating in 1951, and received his law degree from the University of Manitoba in 1955. From 1955 to 1959 he served as a Solicitor for the Department of National Revenue in the Taxation Division. He was associated with and partner of a Calgary law firm Fenerty & Co. from 1959 to 1978. In 1976 he was appointed to Queen's Privy Council. He formed the law firm Bell Felesky Flynn in 1978 with offices in Calgary and Edmonton with practice restricted to taxation matters. In 1991 he was appointed Judge of the Tax Court of Canada. He was one of the most sought-after counsels in taxation matters, wrote extensively for professional journals and lectured across Europe and North America on a specialty within a specialty - taxation as applied to the petroleum industry.
Justice Bell had a long and close association with Brandon University (BU), bringing his extensive legal, professional and personal experiences to his service on many BU boards, and tirelessly promoting BU across the country, while also making significant financial contributions to improve physical structures, programs and student scholarships. A founding member of the BU Foundation, he established both the R. D. Bell Scholarship and the R. D. Bell String Scholarships. He contributed to numerous other scholarships and campaigns, and donated numerous gifts of art. In 1994, he donated and had restored an 1873 square Steinway piano. He was appointed Chancellor from 1990 to 1996 and because of serving with distinction in this role was named Chancellor Emeritus in 1998. He served as an exemplary ambassador and in doing so enriched the depth, stature and student life at Brandon University.
His desire to "make things better" was not restricted to BU. His generous support of many other institutions, art galleries and music organizations throughout the country are just as commendable. The donation he was most proud of was given to the Canada Council for its instrument bank, a violin made by Giovanni Tononi in Bologna, Italy in the 1690s.
His service to Brandon University has been acknowledged with various honours and awards including: the Brandon University Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1981, the Brandon University Foundation Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award in 1999, the R. D. Bell Hall in the School of Music and the Bell Tower atop the Original Brandon Collage Building named in his honour, the Alumni Award in 2000 for exceptional service to BU and the alumni association, a Brandon University Alumni Wall of Fame recipient in 2002, and an Honorary Doctorate in 2006.
His favourite pastimes covered the spectrum, including sports, music, literature, the visual arts and connecting with a unique and vast circle of friends from many walks of life. He knew how to bring people together and create inspiring social gatherings. He enjoyed playing golf at various clubs throughout the country and abroad. He loved playing the piano and enjoyed taking piano lessons. He was extremely articulate and excelled at arranging thoughts and words. He loved language and enjoyed improving his proficiency in French. He excelled at watercolour painting, drawing, and sketching. His closest friends and family looked forward to his iconic Christmas cards - designed with humour and professionally printed around the central subject of his favourite "sippy": the martini.
He was an inspiration to all who knew him, and his spirit lives on in those who found inspiration, courage and strength in his example. He cared deeply for his friends and family, and was continually cared for and surrounded by them until his last breath.
He was predeceased by his parents, William Harold and Myrtle Irene (Sparrow) Bell and his eldest brother William (and Kay) Bell. He is survived and will be greatly missed by his brother George, lovingly adored by nieces, Susan (Denis) of Quebec City and Alison of Vancouver, (and their mother Joan), his nephews, Brian (Helen) of Victoria, Dean (Patricia) of Deloraine and Grant (Susan) of Calgary; his grandnieces and grandnephews, Catherine, Grace, Olivier, Scott (Lindsay), Anika (Matt), Andrew (Shannon), Britney (Brayden), Jayson (Dani), Graeme and Brynmor, great-grandniece Andersyn, and great-grandnephew Oakland.
A funeral service will be held on Friday, January 24 at 1:00 p.m. at Cropo Funeral Chapel, 1442 Main Street, Winnipeg with Rt. Rev. Msgr. Mitrat Michael J. Buyachok officiating. Interment to follow in Brookside Cemetery, 3001 Notre Dame Avenue.
If friends so desire, memorial donations may be made in memory of Ron Bell to a charity of their choice.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jan 18, 2020

Condolences & Memories (2 entries)

  • Dear Susan, Alison, and family, RE: Dear Ron In addition to the fine tribute by the Felesky Flynn LP firm, I wish to add a few personal reflections and “thank you” in memory of Ron, with deep sympathies to all of you. • The Early Connection – (the Fenerty firm) - 1971 I so appreciated Ron and his partner (John Fingarson) reaching out to me in 1971 with an invitation to join the Fenerty firm to practice tax law. I was a young lawyer (3 years out), was with a very fine firm (Ballem, McDill and MacInnes), but was attracted by the opportunity of working with Ron Bell, in his prestigious tax practice. Soon thereafter, we were very much benefited by Bob Iverach and then Joe Struck joining our tax group. It was a glorious time of learning and adventure - all with Ron’s sage guidance and introductions. • Bell Felesky Iverach and Struck LP – 1978 Our growth in learning, confidence and clientele, (with Ron’s leadership), led to us striking out on our own – as a fledging tax law boutique, in April of 1971. It was a very fine and successful venture. Writing a small book “Income TAX – Tips and Traps”, serving clients, hosting events, giving papers, teaching courses, was a lot of hard work, but it was also very exhilarating. We were also blessed with a superb and expanding group of partners and associates. We entrenched “family” into our values (e.g. into our parties, events and mini-sabbaticals). Helped the boom in Alberta’s energy economy, we proudly earned, exceptional mandates from great clients, many of whom became life-time friends. • Ron to the TAX Court – 1991 That Ron was appointed as a judge of the TAX Court of Canada in 1991, was a fitting recognition of his stature and acuity. He served with exemplary distinction and honour. We were delighted for him. The Bench, the culture and events of Ottawa, were so suited to Ron, and it was savoured by him. • Humour and Wit – 1) On the Golf Course: There were legion humorous times. The first major client event of our new tax firm (was golfing at the Banff Springs Hotel and Resort). At the inaugural tee off, Ron proudly pulled out a shiny, new graphite driver. Most of us had never seen one before. We were in awe! There was an admiring hush from our client gallery. Ron then very graciously offered to me the opportunity to hit the “opening drive”. So, I then gave his precious weapon a monsterous swing. But, “yikes…,” I hit ground first with a big thud. The shaft broke in two and the clubhead went sailing off into the Bow River waters below. I was devastated and totally embarrassed. However, Ron saved me, by breaking into a great howl of laughter. He was soon joined by loud cheering from all our guests. It was a hell’va generous and relieving gesture by Ron. 2) In the Garbage Dump: We were engaged in a large tax/ civil litigation file on behalf of a very valued corporate client. Many boxes of files were brought into our boardroom, as we were assembling briefing-binders on our client’s case, for submission to counsel for the Department of Justice. A couple of days later, to our horror, we discovered that the cleaning staff had mistakenly treated our file boxes as a garbage. As a result, in a fit of dismay, Ron and I ran off to the relevant city dump area, to search for the errant documents. The scene of Ron Bell festooned in his usual designer attire, walking ever so gingerly through the mess of rotting debris, with sordid smells, and then actually finding the odd and soiled evidence of some of our documents, is an image, that I shall always remember. In the despair of our pathetic situation, we both broke out in a very big laughing (nervous) spell. Happily, in the end, it all worked out well, for our client, and for us – Whew! 3) End to Skiing: Ron loved golf (e.g. always using his “Florsheim shoe wedge” to get out of the sand) He also had a fleeting fancy for skiing. One fateful day, after a day of skiing, (which was “cold to bones”), Ron was driving back to Calgary with a good friend (a partner of the then, Coopers Lybrand firm). Ron’s friend (Rod Whitehead) recalled to us, that mid-way back to Calgary, Ron (still shivering) suddenly stopped the car – got out – pulled his skis off the ski rack on the roof. He then abruptly threw his skis and poles (which were undoubtedly very costly/ high end), into the snow drift. Upon getting back in the car, Ron gleefully shouted – “I’m finished, I’m f’n finished with skiing” – and he was! That was so Ron – so categoric – so animated – a terrific and unique character! 4) Ron’s Love for His Nieces: Ron’s passion and generosity for the arts, for symphony orchestras, for pianists, vocalists and painters, for exquisite décor and fine cuisine, for the Lethbridge University Gallery and for the Brandon University and for his many friends, along the way, are legion and most laudable. However, it was his love of his nieces, Susan and Alison, that was in the very front of his mind and his heart. They were his deepest love. He was the ultimate of a giving and caring uncle. The pride he felt and expressed in their growth and his hand in their many achievements, was so lovely. It really reflected the very best of Ron. Rest in peace, dear Ron. Warm wishes and thank you. Brian and Stephanie - Posted by: Brian Felesky (Friend and longtime colleague) on: Jan 23, 2020

  • Life-long inspirational friend much loved. Will be missed greatly - Posted by: Duncan de Kergommeaux (Friend) on: Jan 20, 2020

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