PORT JERVIS— Port Jervis’ April 25 Common Council meeting started with a moment of silence. On the agenda next to “Finance and Insurance” were two closed and empty parentheses. The last seat on the stage right side of the room was empty with only a nameplate to show that Frank Bell, a Fourth Ward councilman, Finance Committee chairman, husband, father, and Little League coach was once part of the Council.
“This week has been a difficult week not only for the City Council but for members of the respective departments within the City as well as City residents,” said Mayor Kelly Decker during his mayor’s correspondence.
Councilman Bell passed suddenly April 19 at his home in Port Jervis. He was 73.
“Frank was an all-around-type gentleman,” Decker said. “People have no idea how beneficial it was to have Frank here on the Council and his ability to work with us as far as the finances go.”
Bell’s partner in the Fourth Ward, Stanley Siegel, who has served with Bell on the Council for over 10 years, said in a letter read at the meeting that Bell was an inspiration to him and he “tried to follow in his footsteps in respect to his demeanor and even temper.”
“I know that Frank wanted to retire from politics, but I believe that he continued so he didn’t break up our team, and [because] he cared so much for our community,” Siegel wrote.
Second Ward Councilman George Belcher, who is Bell’s brother-in-law, said he was going to “miss him terribly.”
Second Ward Councilman Robert Ritchie recalled how Bell, who was a veteran councilman when he joined, took him under his wing as he did many others.
“The first meeting I served with him on a committee, he walked me out to the parking lot,” Ritchie recalled. “He goes through the trunk of his car and pulled out an [Industrial Development Agency] IDA book and he said, ‘You know, you’re on the IDA with me and there’s a lot to learn.'”
Third Ward Councilwoman Kristin Trovei said he was a mentor on the council as well as in life. “Not just in politics but in Port Jervis pride. He has a passion and a feistiness to him that I will certainly miss,” she said.
Flags will be flown half-mast at City Hall and Point Peter for 30 days from his passing.
At the meeting, second Ward Councilman Robert Ritchie was appointed Finance Committee chairman in his stead.
Decker said he hoped Bell’s memory would inspire others to get involved in their community like Bell was.
“We most certainly welcome that,” he said.
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