GONZALES — Former Ascension Parish Council Chairman Pat Bell, described as “a friend to all,” died Wednesday night, parish officials said Thursday.
Bell, 68, who was serving on the Pontchartrain Levee District Board at the time of his death, was on the Parish Council from 2008 to 2012 and elected chairman all four years.
Beth James, a former parish executive who worked with him while in parish government and remained friends afterward, said Bell had an “aw, shucks” persona that hid an intelligence, sense of humor and understated political savvy that quietly brought people together.
“Really and truly, Pat Bell is one of the greatest people I ever knew, and I don’t think people will ever know how great he really was because he did so much behind the scenes,” James said. “He was remarkable.”
Bell, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, also was a past president of the Amite River Basin Commission and a board member of River Parishes Community College, the River Region Cancer Screening Board and the Geismar Complex Federal Credit Union.
An ardent promoter of the Ascension Parish-owned Lamar Dixon Expo Center, Bell, along with former parish President Tommy Martinez, pushed for parishwide events at the center and for an annual Veterans Day parade in Gonzales as a way to build community spirit.
“Pat was a friend to all and a tireless worker,” Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa said in a statement. “He was a natural public servant who really cared about his Prairieville constituents and Ascension Parish residents as a whole. He will be deeply missed.”
Bell, who worked for Uniroyal Chemical in Geismar for 32 years before retiring, also worked as sergeant-at-arms for the Louisiana State Senate and was a commissioned parish sheriff’s deputy as a court bailiff.
He made an unsuccessful run for the Prairieville-area state House District 59 last year.
Bell is survived by his wife, Sheily Duplessis Bell, and two sons, Patrick Jr. and Brady Bell.