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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

J. Ardis Bell dies at 95

joe b. rushing, j. ardis bell, jenkins garrett; tcc foundation gala 2008
J. Ardis Bell at the TCC Foundation Gala in 2008.
March 25, 2020 | Malik Giles | campus editor

J. Ardis Bell died March 22, leaving a legacy of more than 50 years in medicine, education, community service and as a founder of Tarrant County College.

Bell was born in Fort Worth on Nov. 21, 1924 to B.B. and Hazel Bell. He graduated from Arlington Heights High School in 1941 and was enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942. It was while assigned to the ship’s sickbay that he was encouraged by the ship’s physician to attend college and medical school.

After acquiring his science degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1949 and his M.D. from UT Medical Branch in Galveston in 1955, Bell served as an intern at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. 

In 1963, his work in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Chamber and the Rotary Club substantially changed the face of education in Tarrant County and spurred the creation of Tarrant County Junior College, now TCC.

Bell was a founder of TCC and was president of the board of trustees for 32 years.

Bell’s Chamber task force joined with attorney Jenkins Garrett to form a steering committee, and in 1965 it succeeded in calling for an election to establish the junior college. Bell was one of seven candidates put forward by the committee for election to the board of trustees.

Dr. Bill Lace, retired Vice Chancellor for Administration who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Journalism, was in charge of writing Dr. Bell’s speeches. He said Dr. Bill wasn’t really good at public speaking.  

“I guess the thing I remember most is my knees knocking when I had to get up to address someone,” Bell told Lace. “But I had a sincere drive and desire, and I guess my fear was one of whether I could get my point across.”

Bell held the presidency for 32 years until his retirement from the board in 2008. Bell continued to follow TCC events, and the school honored him by naming the NE Campus library after him. 

“It is really hard to ignore Dr. Bell’s work in the creation of the college,” Lace said

Bell at the groundbreaking ceremony for NW Camus in 1974.

Bell was a member of the North Richland Baptist Church for more than 40 years. He had been married to the former Doris Lou Chester in 1948, and the couple had four sons and two daughters.

Bell was preceded in death by Doris, his wife of 57 years. He is survived by son Ardis Bell Jr.; daughter Melody Bell Fowler and husband Larry; daughter Lisa Bell Holman and husband Dixon; son Britt Bell and wife Nancy; son Greg Bell and wife Shelly; son David Bell and wife Elizabeth; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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