I hope you’ll bear with me as I depart from the usual fare of crime and courts stories to make a personal note. As many of you know, longtime Whittier Daily News editor and columnist Bill Bell passed away April 1 after suffering a stroke. A beautiful public memorial service was held for him Saturday at Rose Hills in Whittier. I was assigned the honor of covering the service for the Whittier Daily News. I’d like to share some thought on Mr. Bell with you.
I sat down at my computer Saturday afternoon with a lofty task: to write a story about a memorial service for former longtime Whittier Daily News Editor Bill Bell.
I’ve only been with the newspaper a handful of years, and there are many others reporters who knew him much better than myself. Nonetheless, I was resolved to make sure I did the story justice.
My first thought as I began tapping away at the keyboard was a sobering one. For a story of this magnitude and importance to the Whittier community, I sure could use Bill Bell’s advice right about now, I thought. But he’s gone, and he’s not coming back. We’re on our own now. No more “Mr. Whittier.”
Bill Bell gave me my first job at a daily newspaper when he hired me as an intern for the Whittier Daily News about six years ago.
It was clear that I was not as experienced as he would have liked. Ultimately, however, with a little coaxing from then-assistant editor Hector Gonzalez, who for some reason saw some potential in me, he decided to give me a chance.
Without Bill Bell’s willingness to take a chance on an eager, but clueless, kid, I sincerely doubt I’d be doing the work I love today.
So for your years of dedicated service to Whittier, your inspiration to new generations of writers and for starting me on my beloved career, thanks Mr. Bell. Someday, I hope to make you proud.