Julian Bell, Jr.
Julian Baker Bell, Jr. passed away peacefully on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, at his home on Signal Mountain. He was comfortable and surrounded by his family and loving caregivers. Julian was a devoted husband and father, a caring and giving grandfather, a generous employer, and a well-known and successful local businessman. He will be missed by many. Julian was born on Sept. 29, 1940 in Newport News, Va. His mother, Bessie Salmons Bell, was a teacher at Creeds Elementary School which was located next door to Julians childhood home in Princess Anne County, Virginia. His father, Julian Baker Bell, was an electrical engineer at the Norfolk-Newport News, Virginia shipyard. Julians father died in 1943 when Julian was three years of age. He was raised by his mother with ample help from her brother and sister-in-law, Lee and Sue Salmons, who lived nearby. Julians childhood was spent surrounded by family, as the Salmons clan (grandmother, aunts, uncles, and many cousins) all farmed for a living and had their farms and homes within a few miles of one another. Julian attended Creeds Elementary School (where his mother became principal), Princess Anne High School, and Oak Ridge Military Academy. As a young man, he developed a life-long love of reading, learning and being a student. After graduating from Oak Ridge Military Academy, Julian attended and graduated from Virginia Tech, then known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI). He was a member of Sigma Lambda fraternity and maintained many of his fraternity friendships until his death. While at Virginia Tech, Julian went on a blind date and met the love of his life, Carola Jean Gillum. They married soon thereafter and remained married until his death. After his graduation from VPI as a civil engineer, Julian worked at Ford Pile Foundations in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and later worked at the DuPont Company. In 1966, Julian was transferred by DuPont to Chattanooga, where he and Carola would raise their family. Julian left DuPont in the early 1970s and was the Assistant City Engineer for the City of Chattanooga, and later the Director of the Department of Public Works. In 1975 he started his own consulting firm, Bell Engineering Company. Julian would later transform his company into Bell Development Company, Hamilton Countys largest residential land developer and home builder from the 1980s until his death. Julian was immensely proud of the work his company did in developing residential neighborhoods and building homes for thousands of Chattanooga and Hamilton County families. Julian was twice the President of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga, and was active as an officer and board member for decades. He was also twice named Developer of the Year. He believed in helping others become successful in home building, and mentored many local builders. Julian was generous and compassionate to his employees and their families, as well as to fellow builders that found themselves in need from time to time. He was active in several local civic and philanthropic organizations, and gave generously to many causes, among them Bible in the Schools, the Boy Scouts and several local schools. Julian had a lifelong love for Virginia Tech and never failed to share his love of Tech with his children and grandchildren. Starting in their earliest years, his children and grandchildren were regaled with stories of Julians days at Virginia Tech, taken on trips to Blacksburg, and spent hours with him watching Tech football and basketball games. In 2011, Julian was honored by Virginia Tech by being inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni for his philanthropy to the School of Engineerings Land Development Design Initiative and his work with students and professors. Julian was a self-made man in the most traditional sense. He grew up having a father for only his first three years of life, yet he became a devoted, giving and loving father and grandfather. His gift of his time to his sons and grandchildren taught them all the value of giving of yourself to those that you love. Julians mother never remarried, yet despite not seeing the daily interactions of husband and wife, he was a devoted, loving and remarkable husband, married to Carola for over 51 years. Julian would be the first to tell people that he was never a stellar student in school, yet he became a successful and exemplary civil engineer, entrepreneur and business owner in a difficult, volatile and challenging industry. Julians legacy is the wonderful example he set for his children and grandchildren. Regardless of what was going on in his life, his priority was spending his time with his sons, grandsons and granddaughters. He taught them, in words and deeds, to have faith in a loving and all-powerful God, to be loving and respectful to one another and to their friends, to give back to their community, to never stop learning, to always be fair and honest in everything they do, and to always do their best. Julians last months were spent at his home with his family and in the overwhelmingly compassionate and loving care of four wonderful caregivers, Kathy Hawkins, Sarah Hamel, April Powell and Maria Felix, with whom he shared a special bond in the most delicate and tender days of his life. Julian is survived by his wife of 51 years, Carola Gillum Bell; three sons, Julian, Jon (Randi Smith), and Jay (Tere Canto); and seven grandchildren, Baker and Riley Bell of Signal Mountain, Carlos and Veronica Bell, of Hixson, and Jerica, Caleb and Sara Bell, of East Brainerd. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts be considered for Bible in the Schools, P.O. Box 4228, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37405. A celebration of Julians life will be held at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church, 612 James Boulevard, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377 at a date and time to be announced. Arrangements are by the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, 5401 Hwy. 153, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37343. Please share your thoughts and memories at www.chattanooganorthchapel.com