Etta Ardella Green Bell, 82, loving family matriarch and churchwoman

Posted: July 30, 2014

ETTA ARDELLA Green Bell had a listening ear.

Family, friends and neighbors knew they could go to her with any concern, or just to be in the presence of someone they could talk to, someone who cared and heard them without judgment.

And you knew that Etta Bell was hearing you and that she felt your pain - or your joy. In fact, it was hard to be despondent or in a bad mood in her presence, because Etta Bell was just naturally a happy person. Her smile could light up a room.

What's more, Etta had a wisdom born of life's lessons and her religious faith to offer help to those who needed her guidance, or just to receive a word of encouragement to press on.

Etta Bell, a devoted family matron and active churchwoman, died July 17 of natural causes. She was 82 and lived in Wynnefield Heights.

"Etta was truly a servant and brought smiles, encouragement and inspiration to the hearts of everyone she met," her family said in a tribute.

"Family was not simply a word but her mantra, love was not something enchanted but expressed and acceptance was without delay or judgment.

"Etta had a heart of gold. She left an indelible print on the hearts of many. For those who loved her, the world will be a very different place without her."

She was born the sixth of the seven children of William McKinley and Etta Crawford Green. She graduated from William Penn High School. She worked as a data processor for the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

Etta was 17 when she married Ralph D. Bell. He was a machinist for Westinghouse Corp. He died in 1982.

She was a devoted music fan and liked to listen to oldies while doing housework. She was a fan of Etta James and Patti LaBelle, and liked gospel music. Her favorite hymn was "Take Me to the King":

Take me to the king.

I don't have much to bring.

My heart is torn in pieces.

It's my offering.

Much to the amusement of her grandchildren, Etta liked to hum as she worked. "She didn't even know she was doing it," said her daughter, Francine Bell Scipio Cooper.

Etta was an excellent cook. When word would leak out that she was making fried chicken and baking her famous cheesecake, friends and family would knock on her door.

Etta was baptized at Shiloh Baptist Church and later became an active member of Monumental Baptist Church under the pastorate of the late Rev. Dr. M.M. Peace Sr.

She read her Bible every day and liked to do crossword puzzles and watch the soaps on TV. She and her sister Dorothy Green Davis would talk on the phone about the soaps at great length.

"She was very sweet," her daughter said. "Everybody loved her."

Besides her daughter, she is survived by two sons, Ralph D. Bell and Gregory C. Bell; four grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Services: Were Saturday. Burial was in Fernwood Cemetery.

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