Mason Bell, 97, died January 14 at Marquette Manor in Indianapolis. Born Albert Mason Bell on November 11, 1916, in Clear Spring, Md., he attended Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory of Music prior to serving with the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II.
Discharged with the rank of master sergeant, Mr. Bell went to work as a clerk-typist for Chevrolet’s Baltimore Zone in 1946 and moved to corporate headquarters in Detroit in 1964. As Chevrolet Motor Division’s Director of Youth Activities, he was general manager of the All-American Soap Box Derby and the America’s Junior Miss Pageant, and headed Chevrolet’s Driver Education Program.
When Chevrolet took over sponsorship of the Junior Olympics in 1973, Mr. Bell coordinated publicity and promotional ventures with the Amateur Athletic Union’s national youth sports development program. He retired from Chevrolet in 1974 and joined AAU’s national staff in Indianapolis as Director of Sports Development.
Working with AAU Executive Director Ollan Cassell, Mr. Bell played a major role in securing AAU sponsors like Sears, Mack Trucks, and Hilton Hotels. He helped organize the first Indianapolis Mini-Marathon in 1977, and in 1978 he was in charge of the first James E. Sullivan Award Banquet in Indianapolis. The Sullivan Award has been presented to America’s top amateur athlete since 1930.
Mr. Bell served as Executive Director of AAU from 1982 to 1986 and as President of the AAU Foundation through 1989. After retiring, he was active in the Indianapolis Athletic Club and the Kiwanis Club of Northwest Indianapolis. A member of the All-American Soap Box Derby and Amateur Athletic Union halls of fame, he was an accomplished violinist and a devotee of opera and classical music.
Mr. Bell was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers and a sister. Survivors include a nephew, Stephen (Becky) Bell of Ligonier, Pa., and four nieces, Virginia L. Bell of Painesville, Ohio, Elisabeth B. (Earl) Houseknecht of Orefield, Pa., Mary B. (Scott) Frey of Nazareth, Pa., and Jennifer (Tom) Mangus of Yukon, Ore.
He also leaves behind a vast army of friends, former co-workers and admirers who enjoyed his professional skills and tireless work ethic, his humanity, his wonderful wit and entertaining stories, his zest for life, fine music and excellent cuisine, as well as his virtuoso performances with Fritz, a beloved violin he’d purchased in France at the end of the war.
At his request, Mr. Bell’s remains will be cremated and interred in the family plot in Clear Spring. A memorial service will take place at Marquette Manor at a later date, according to Jack Snyder, Mason’s attorney, guardian and close friend.
Mason was grateful for the outstanding care he received from the Assisted Living and Health Care Center staff of Marquette Manor. In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Mason may be made to the Marquette Manor Foundation, 8140 Township Line Road, Indianapolis, IN 46260.
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