Kenneth Henry Bell | Daily Inter Lake

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Kenneth Henry Bell was born on September 21, 1936 in the midst of the Great Depression to a beautiful young mother, Frances (Sievers) Bell, who was part German-Dutch and Cree, and her Irish-Canadian father, Lawrence Bell, in Kalispell. He liked to be called Kenny. Kenny passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on November 8, 2022 in Kalispell.

Kenny was an only child. His father worked in the lumber and oilfield industry during the Montana Depression during his younger years. Most summers were spent with her grandparents in Nyack, Montana. He loved this place and eventually the family moved to Nyack from Cut Bank during his high school days. He graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 1954.

Kenny’s Canadian grandfather, Thomas Bell (also called Tip – named after a grizzly as he had a gruff exterior but a heart of gold), taught him how to hunt and trap and learn the ways of Montana wildlife. At age 15, Kenny sold enough beaver pelts to the Hudson’s Bay Company and Beekmans to buy his first car which cost $300.

Their family home in Nyack was near Deerlick Creek and the Middle Fork River, where Kenny fished for trout and hunted elk. He was as tough as they come. The harsh winters never stopped him and neither did the bears. He survived two frightening grizzly bear encounters that earned him the nickname “Legend” by his grandchildren, and had many other harrowing adventures.

His first job was packing horses with supplies in the Flathead National Forest and Bob Marshall Wilderness. Kenny said being a packer for Bill Chilton at Schafer Meadows and looking after the horses and mules was the best job of his life. He grew up in Montana at a time when it was still relatively unsettled in many places with rivers full of salmon and fields and mountains with wandering elk and deer. He loved the beauty of the Flathead and never wanted to leave. He was also the hardest worker we know – in fact, it was hard to slow him down. Like his ancestors before him, Kenny was not defined by wealth and privilege, but by his determination and strength to improve his life.

He worked three jobs to support his family when his children were young. During his lifetime, he also served as a logger, volunteer firefighter, forest ranger, and assistant police chief for 23 years in his hometown of Columbia Falls. As a policeman, he was sworn to uphold the US Constitution and was a strong supporter of the rights it gives us. He was respected by many, a man of honor, firm, but fair and faithful to a fault. He built his own house and cleared the land he bought along the Flathead River with his lifelong friend, Jerry Anders. It is now called Rivers Edge Park; he always wanted it to be a park one day, especially for dogs and children. Kenny enjoyed being at their Duck Lake cabin fishing, boating and working on projects. He loved all his pets, especially Jake his German Shepherd.

Kenny could build almost anything from scratch and fix anything – clear land, build fences, houses and trailers. He was a born engineer.

He enjoyed hunting, fly fishing, camping, backcountry horseback riding, hiking, rafting, ice fishing and snowmobiling with his family and dear friends Jerry and Dee Anders, Mike and Ann Allen and Dave Konopatzke. Kenny was also a gunsmith and hobby farmer, clearing land with his tractor and packing hay until he was 84 years old. He loved Carole’s blueberry pie, homemade bread and burnt toast. He was smart, witty and stubborn. A big tease with a wink and a wink to keep you guessing.

He married Carole Schulte, the love of his life, in November 1962, the last day of the hunting season (who does that – says his uncle Wes Bell); Kenny and Carole got married over Thanksgiving weekend 60 years ago and she never left him.

Sadly, in 2020 Kenny broke his neck in a tragic accident and started the toughest battle of his life. Paralyzed, he learned to walk again at the age of 84 but quickly succumbed to his injuries. These were the most difficult times, but he had the kind support of his family, old friends and new friends and the endless devotion of his wife who gave him the strength to carry on.

Kenny is predeceased by his parents Larry and Frankie Bell, and his infant son, Lawrence Bell.

Kenny is survived by his beloved wife, Carole (Schulte) Bell; his three children: his daughter, Lorri Bell-(Geoffrey) Cribb of Perth, Western Australia; daughter, Kendy (Craig) Jensen of Lavina, Montana; son, Brad (Kathy) Bell of Columbia Falls; nine grandchildren: Josh, Luke, Kieran, Alyssa Cribb, Kalyn, Cole, Kirsten and Kennah Jensen, and Brady Bell; cousins: Lana (Dan) Shura, Mark (Gerye) Bell, Britt (Lee) Bell, and Keith Soderstrom; sister-in-law, Sherry (Bill) Martindale; brother-in-law, Bill Schulte; and nieces and nephews; lifelong friends, Jerry and Dee Anders and family (Ander-Bells).

Thank you to all of our family and friends for all the love and support. Special thanks to Tamara Frazier, Kevin Allen and Pat and JoEllen Estenson. Also, a loving thank you to all of the caring staff and community of Expressions Memory Care. We are eternally grateful to everyone and will pay for it.

Private services will be at a later date in summer 2023.

Johnson-Gloschat Funeral Home and Crematorium is caring for the family.

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