Howard G. Bell, businessman and recreational pilot, dies

Howard G. Bell, a businessman who had owned and operated a pit beef stand and a billiards hall, died Monday of complications from cancer at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.

The longtime Rosedale resident was 67.


The son of Bill B. Bell Sr., a General Motors Corp. foreman, and Anna Pennington, a homemaker, Howard Gary Bell was born in Chestertown and raised in Betterton and in Hawthorne, Baltimore County.

Known as Gary, he was a 1966 graduate of Kenwood High School


He briefly worked for Bethlehem Steel Corp., then enlisted in the Army in 1968. He was assigned to the Signal Corps and was trained in microwave radio repair.

In 1969, he married Sandra L. Smith, who joined him while he was stationed in Germany.

Mr. Bell was stationed in Vietnam in 1970 and served in the stationary microwave radio repair unit at Monkey Mountain near Da Nang.

After being discharged as a specialist in 1971, he enrolled at what is now the Community College of Baltimore County, Essex campus, while working full time at Bethlehem Steel.

Mr. Bell fought cancer for most of his life. He was first diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1974.

After being laid off from Bethlehem Steel, he opened a pit beef stand near Martin State Airport in Middle River but later closed the business because the "smoke was a health issue," said his wife.

He then opened and operated a billiards hall, also near the airport. But continuing health problems forced him to sell the business in 1990.

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In the 1970s, Mr. Bell realized a lifelong dream when he earned his pilot's license and, with his brother-in-law, Ed Cassano, purchased a plane, which he flew for several years.


"He flew as far north as Niagara Falls and south to the airport at Kitty Hawk, N.C.," his wife said.

After having a leg amputated, Mr. Bell purchased a wheelchair-accessible van in which he could drive to Horseshoe Casino in downtown Baltimore.

He was an avid poker player and a member of the Hawks Pleasure Club in Essex.

Mr. Bell was a member of Essex United Methodist Church, 524 Maryland Ave., Essex, where a memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Sunday.

In addition to his wife of 47 years, Mr. Bell is survived by two brothers, Bill B. Bell Jr. of Abingdon and George Bell of Bel Air; a sister, Darlene Hicks of Essex; and many nieces and nephews.

—Frederick N. Rasmussen