The Rev. Karl Edwin Bell, 84, of Fifty Lakes and Minneapolis, Minnesota, passed away peacefully on April 27 after a long and courageous battle with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
A native of St Paul, Minnesota, he was the son of Clifford P. Bell and Louise (Hammerbacher) Bell. He was a graduate of St. Thomas Academy, the University of Minnesota and the Episcopal Church’s Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. In 1961 he was ordained at the Cathedral of our Merciful Savior in Faribault, Minnesota, where he was assigned curate. Shortly thereafter he was named the first full-time, resident chaplain at Shattuck School in Faribault.
From Shattuck School he moved to establish the new mission congregation of St Paul’s Church in Naples, Florida. From Florida, the missionary spirit led him to St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Caracas, Venezuela, where he served the wide and diverse English-speaking community. After five years in Venezuela he returned to his native Minnesota and to Christ Church, in Albert Lea. From Albert Lea he moved to Christ Church in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where he was an instrumental and proactive force in the resettlement of the Hmong population.
In 1992 he moved to Wiesbaden, Germany, where he spent 10 years as rector of the Church of St. Augustine of Canterbury, part of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. Under his guidance, the congregation flourished. Following his success at St. Augustine, he was asked to go to Clermont-Ferrand, France, and help grow the new mission church there.
In 2004, the Rev. Bell retired from active ministry and returned to his native Minnesota and to his family’s lake home in Fifty Lakes. He spent the final 12 years of his ministry at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Aitkin, Minnesota, until October 2016.
In the 56 years since his ordination, he touched and influenced countless lives in Germany, France, Venezuela, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin and beyond. From Hmong refugees to troubled youth to regular parishioners and his neighbors in Fifty Lakes, he will be remembered for his kindness, his humor and his respect for all people.
He is survived by his daughter, Dianne Bell (David Eenigenburg), and son, Andrew Bell (Carrie), both of Minneapolis, and four grandchildren: Amelia, Nicholas, Jakob and Luke. He is also survived by his sister, Donna Sperr, of Daytona Beach, Florida. The funeral was held on April 30 at St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis.
Memorials directed to the family at 2430 Cedar Lane, Minneapolis, MN 55416 will go towards conservation efforts to improve the lake water quality of Mitchell Lake in Fifty Lakes, where he lived. Checks can be made out to the Fifty Lakes Property Owners Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting responsible stewardship of land and water resources in Fifty Lakes.