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Bessie Evelyn Bell

October 20, 2013

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November 1, 2013

6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Prugh's Chapel
317 N. 4th St.
Burlington, IA 52601

Celebration of Life
November 2, 2013

10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
First United Methodist
421 Washington
Burlington, Iowa 52601

Bessie Evelyn Bell died peacefully Sunday, October 20, at the home of her daughter, Deborah, in Ames, Iowa, two weeks short of her 101st birthday.

Bessie was born November 3, 1912, in Iowa City, Iowa, to Czech immigrants Albert and Barbara Soucek.  They gave her the Czech name Bozenka, which she reclaimed in later life.  She was very proud of her Czech heritage and credited her long and healthy life to her "100% Czech genes."  She enjoyed attending Czech festivals and frequently offered to sing the Barbara Polka, in Czech, with polka bands.  She learned to play the Czech national anthem on the piano and played it daily until recently.

Bessie graduated from Iowa City High School in 1930.  In 1935, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of Iowa, earning a Bachelor's of Science degree in Nursing.  She was supervisor of the Internal Medicine Department of University of Iowa Hospitals for nearly four years.  She married Robert S. Bell in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on July 26, 1938.  During her husband's internship in Madison, Wisconsin, Bessie worked at Madison General Hospital.  She and her husband moved to Burlington, Iowa where she was a homemaker for the remainder of her life, raising and caring for five children.

Bessie was a long time member of the First United Methodist Church.  She belonged to the University of Iowa's Alumni Association and its Directors Club.  She was a member of the What-So-Ever Circle of Kings Daughters for over 60 years and belonged to several Burlington civic organizations.  She was a lifetime member of Players Workshop.  She was also a long-time member of the Great River Medical Center Auxiliary and volunteered at GRMC in many different capacities; she especially enjoyed working in the Emergency Department, which she did regularly until the last few years.  Bessie supported the Southeast Iowa Band, the Burlington Municipal Band and the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra.  She was a member of the Czechoslovak Society of America.

Bessie's hobbies included piano playing, bridge playing and cooking.  She became an avid walker in her 70's and walked several miles every day, earning silver and gold medals in first the regional and then state competitions of the Senior Olympics in North Carolina, where her daughter Deborah was living.  She loved to sing and charmed those around her with her singing as well as her always-sunny disposition.  For the last two and a half years of her life, she made her home with daughter Deborah and her husband, Mark, of Ames, Iowa.

Survivors include three daughters, Barbara Bell of Pasadena, California; Karen (Cliff) Tyllick of Austin, Texas; and Deborah (Mark) Blaedel of Ames, Iowa; and son Thomas of Burlington.  She is also survived by grandchildren John Bell Abt, Anna Blaedel and Emily Blaedel (Nick) Johnson, one great-granddaughter, Zoe Blaedel Johnson, and many nieces and nephews.  Bessie was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, three brothers, an infant sister and her son, Robert.

A gathering of family and friends will be at Prugh Funeral Services in Burlington on Friday, Nov. 1, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.  There will be a celebration of life funeral service at First United Methodist Church in Burlington, Iowa, on November 2 at 10:30 a.m. followed by a luncheon reception at the church. Interment will be at Rock Creek Cemetery in Ollie, Iowa.

Memorials may be directed to First United Methodist Church of Burlington, the Burlington Municipal Band, or Rock Creek Church Restoration Fund.  Condolences can be directed to                        

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