Elinor Watson Bell
Elinor Watson Bell, age 91, of Wayzata, died at home, on October 16, after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Preceded in death by her parents, James Alfred and Lucia Louise (Lulu) Watson; her brothers, Cecil Watson and Leland Watson; her first husband, Dr. Porter Madeira Hoidale and her second husband, James Ford Bell, Jr. Also preceded in death by dear friends Elly Phillips, Detta Clifford, Phebe Kobbe, Julia Denecke, and Alice Carlson. Survived by her brother James A. Watson and wife Ann; sons Kevin Hoidale, Ford Bell (Amy); and Cecil Bell (Heather); daughter Louise Reinhardt (Harry); stepsons Peter B. Bell and James Ford Bell, III; and 14 grandchildren. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews, including her birthday-mate, Lucia Watson. An accomplished pianist and a passionate advocate for music education, Elinor Bell received her B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1933 and also spent time studying music in Munich, where she lived for 2 years in the early 1930s. She returned to study piano performance with Guy Maier at Ann Arbor, and went on to earn her M.A. in piano in 1947 at Hamline, studying under Austrian composer Ernst Krenek. She gave recitals for many years, specializing in the repertoire for two pianos and four hands at one piano. She is survived by her piano partner of 40 years, Martha Ivory. A lifelong volunteer on behalf of music, she served on the boards of the Minnesota Orchestral Association, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and MacPhail Center for the Arts. She worked for many years on behalf of a separate school of music at the University of Minnesota, and after the school was established continued her strong advocacy in support of a new performance hall for the School. She served on the advisory board for the University of Minnesota School of Music and in 2000 the Elinor Watson Bell Piano Fellowship was initiated with funds provided by family members and the University of Minnesota. She was also a volunteer on behalf of the Schubert Club and Young Peoples Symphony. In the mid-1990s, Elinor Bell established the Belford Series, where she invited small non-profit organizations to hold receptions at her home, Belford. Organizations were able to invite donors or prospective donors to events where they could learn more about the work of the organization and expand their base of supporters. More than two dozen community organizations were able to host teas, dinners, or dessert receptions at Belford. Invariably, music was part of the event. In May 2001, principals of the Minnesota Orchestra performed her favorite work of music, the Schubert Octet, in the living room at Belford in honor of her 90th birthday. She was a longtime member of the Woodhill Country Club and Minneapolis Club, and was for 30 years a member of the Jupiter Island Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, where she and her second husband, James Ford Bell, Jr., maintained a winter home. She also loved her cabin on Little Berry Island, Rainy Lake, where she first went with her family in 1930. Throughout her life, Elinor Bell was a passionate advocate for music education and for community access to music. The date of a memorial service to celebrate her life will be announced later. The family requests that memorials be directed to MacPhail Center for the Arts or to the Elinor Watson Bell Piano Fellowship Fund at the School of Music, University of Minnesota.
Published on October 17, 2002
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