BELL, Dolores J. Beloved wife of Michael J. Bell for 61 years. Loving mother of Kathy (Bruce) Laake and Michael (Pat) Bell Jr. Devoted grandmother of Christopher (Lesley), Jeffrey (Catherine) Laake, Peter and Benjamin Bell (Brandy Riddle). Dear sister of the late Lucille Bollibon and Richard Tomasko. Also survived by her nieces, nephews, other family and friends. Passed away on Saturday, December 15, 2018 at 87 years of age. Visitation on THURSDAY at MEYER FUNERAL HOME, 5864 Bridgetown Rd., from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM with Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of the Visitation Church, 3172 South Rd., following at 10:30 AM. Memorials may be made to Elder High School, The Annual Fund, 3900 Vincent Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45205. www.bjmeyer.com
Dolores was born in 1931, near the height of the Great Depression, in southwestern Pennsylvania. She had a humble lineage. She was a second-generation American. Her father mined coal for a living. Due to her premature birth, her family fed her with an eyedropper and kept her in a coal stove, which served as a crude incubator. The intensive care Dolores received in her early days of life had a formative effect on her. Specifically, it bolstered her resilience and impressed upon her the importance of a nurturing family.
She came of age in a world of material deprivation and uncertainty. As a child she ate ketchup sandwiches. Later, booklets of ration stamps dictated what her family could obtain. To a child in that era, it might have seemed like the world could have ended before she would have had the opportunity to enjoy it. However, rather than souring her, the challenging circumstances of Dolores's early years gave her an appreciation for life and its mundane joys.
Although Dolores worked professionally for a time, she found her calling in her husband and family. She fostered her relationship with Michael, her husband, by writing him letters while he served in the Army. Their courtship started platonically because Dolores considered it her patriotic duty to correspond with him, and apparently some other servicemen. While Michael's military duty concluded after several years, Dolores's tour of duty, in a sense, lasted over 61 years.
Dolores and Michael produced two children, whom she raised into exceptional adults. These children married two wonderful spouses, who both treated Dolores like their own mother. Appropriately, Dolores called both her children and their spouses "the kids." Her children and their spouses produced four grandsons, whom Dolores referred to as "the boys."
After marrying, the couple set out on an odyssey. Since Michael's job required frequent relocation, Dolores became a trailing spouse. After living in several cities, they settled in Cincinnati in the early 1970s.
Although Dolores did live happily ever after with Michael, she encountered additional obstacles. In 1974 a tornado scattered or destroyed nearly all of Dolores's possessions, including her home. Later, she explained that she derived confidence from this experience because she and her family got through the ordeal with little else besides one another.
Major hardship struck Dolores again when in 1993 she sustained a heart attack. Dolores approached her recovery with fervor. She changed her diet and considered sodium tantamount to poison. She also started walking long distances to improve her endurance. Months later, Michael sustained a massive stroke that left him with physical deficits. For all intents and purposes, this cured Dolores's heart problems. She shifted her focus to Michael's recovery and downplayed her own health problems. Once, she even said that she considered having a stroke far worse than having a heart attack.
Despite this litany of hardships, Dolores remained content and few people who felt as satisfied with their lives as Dolores did.
Instead of spending her time and energy on her own ends, Dolores dedicated her whole life to loving and helping others. For example, she moved across the country with Michael. She volunteered at a school cafeteria because of her children. In essence, Dolores lived her whole life for others.
In a sense, this reflects the limited opportunities available to women of Dolores's generation but social and economic factors do not tell the whole story. Dolores had few hobbies or interests beyond reading, crossword puzzles, birds, comic strips and doodling. Dolores either could not or would not focus on her self.
Dolores rooted her life in a strong relationship with God. Although Dolores worried about everything, including the location of her purse, whether or not someone had locked the basement door and her husband's safety in the garage, she never worried about death. In fact, she frequently characterized herself as ready to die, not in a morbid or pessimistic sense but because she trusted in a loving God. She spent a lot of time praying, which gave her additional peace of mind.
Dolores spent her later years developing relationships with her grandchildren. Her grandchildren each had two sets of parents. Unlike many of their peers, none of them attended daycare, thanks in large part to Dolores. Dolores taught them priceless lessons, not through lectures but through her actions. She showed them how a family should function and that love and sacrifice usually go hand-in-hand. After she passed, Michael indicated that Dolores took great pride in "the boys."
Dolores also lived for her kids. She assisted them both as children and adults. Rather than retiring to Florida, Dolores provided babysitting, dog sitting, taxi services and catering to unburden "the kids" so they could provide for their own families more easily. She also mentored her children. She enjoyed nightly phone conversations during which Dolores imparted her wisdom while providing companionship to her daughter. When Dolores died, her daughter lost not only her mother but also her best friend.
Dolores valued education and learning, which benefited both her children and grandchildren. She loved reading books and magazines, especially National Geographic, which she stockpiled. When she attended school, she exhibited a talent for learning foreign languages. After high school, she attended a private business college, but the school ironically closed before she could complete her studies. Later, she sacrificed to send her children to good schools. Her emphasis on education yielded results. Although Dolores could not have completed her business degree, her children and grandchildren have earned nine college degrees, including several advanced degrees.
Dolores lived for her husband more than anyone else. Over six decades, she was his pen pal, the love his life, the mother of his children and the worst copilot that ever sat in an automobile. Time and again she left everything she knew to follow this man. In later, years, she worked as his caregiver, spending many hours at his side in doctors' offices and hospitals. As Michael became less ambulatory, Dolores served as his legs. The day Dolores died Michael poignantly characterized her as the best friend that he ever had.
In conclusion, Dolores prided herself on her work ethic. She would often say things to the effect that it is better to wear out than rust out. In accordance with her mantras, Dolores's body wore out after 87 years of selfless life. The saying, "What I had I gave, what I saved I lost" applies to Dolores's life. In some sense Dolores lost nothing in death because she had had already given her entire life to others. Now, those of us who benefited from Dolores's life must cherish and emulate her example. As she lived for others, her legacy will continue through others. We love you Dolores and hopefully we will continue to make you proud.