Maxine Mary Bell, age 100, passed away on February 8, 2020, in Arroyo Grande. Born on July 4, 1919 to pioneer Arroyo Grande immigrant parents, David Bruce (an Irishman and farmer) and Emilie Boxall Bruce (an Englishwoman and nurse), Maxine attended elementary and high schools in Arroyo Grande, and graduated in 1937 from Arroyo Grande High School. She grew up in and her faith was formed at the Arroyo Grande Methodist Church and in its youth camps. She attended Santa Barbara City College, and following in her mother’s profession, she graduated in 1941 from the Knapp College of Nursing in Santa Barbara. She was commissioned as an officer and served in the U.S. Army Nursing Corps during World War II, in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippine Islands. Maxine met and became engaged to her husband to be Charles H. (Herb) Bell, on a military ship while transiting from New York through the Panama Canal to Australia. They reunited near the end of the war in Baghio, Luzon Province, Philippine Islands, before returning to California after the war ended. Married on December 31, 1945 in Santa Barbara, the couple lived in Bakersfield, Shell Beach and Pismo Beach, raised 5 children, and was blessed with 15 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren. Maxine served for 25 years as a registered nurse and director of nursing at two convalescent hospitals in Bakersfield. In addition to raising her children and grandchildren, she was an avid gardener and dog lover, a voracious reader, a volunteer library bookbinder, and an enthusiastic bowler. She was the epitome of gentleness and kindness, strengthened by her strong Christian faith, and was a blessing to her family, friends and colleagues. She was preceded in death by her parents David and Emilie, her siblings Leslie Bruce, Hugh Bruce and Aileen Bruce Brady, her husband Herb, and her son John. She is survived by her children, Charles H. Bell, Jr.(Janice) of Arroyo Grande, California, Barbara Bell Kroesch (Doug) of Davis, California, Marilee Rielly (Matt) of Juneau, Alaska, and Jeff Bell (Lisa) of Bakersfield, California, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She is interred with her husband Herb and her family members who preceded her in death at the Arroyo Grande Memorial Cemetery. The family is grateful for the compassionate and loving care of Nelly, Gloria and the entire staff of Family Care Home. A private family memorial service will be held at a later date.
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