Dalton Bell was married to the love of his life, Happy, for 71 years and 1 day. He went ahead of her to where the grass is green and the cows are fat on August 13. The family could not find a good picture of him that didn’t include Happy. There isn’t much in his life that didn’t include Happy.
Dalton was born on June 26, 1932 to Jesse Parker and Mary Melissa Moffett Bell in Blue Water Canyon, New Mexico. His dad died when he was 14 years old. His older brothers were serving in World War II, so he, along with his mother and sister, Millie, operated The Bell Ranch. Dalton graduated from Weed High School and he married his high school sweetheart, Doris Evans “Happy” Bell, in 1950 in Carlsbad. He and Happy lived in Carlsbad, Monument, Hay Canyon, Cottonwood and settled in Artesia, NM over the course of their marriage. They had land in Hay Canyon and a summer cabin outside of Santa Fe, where many memories were made.
Dalton’s children were one of his greatest joys. John Dalton was his first born and they shared a love of using natural resources to make a living for their families. He laughed the loudest at Joel’s jokes and they became extremely close on rides to family events and doctor appointments in the past few years. He and Jeff roamed around the Little Ranch spotting calves and giving them names. He and Jerry worked side by side in the oilfield. He began Jennifer’s love for the ocean by taking her to Alaska, Oregon, Hawaii, California, Florida and Texas beaches. Freddy took Dalton and Happy along with their brother and sister-in-law, Robert and Lavona, on a trip to Branson that was talked about for years after. He and Elizabeth, his neighbor who was like a daughter, read the morning papers and discussed world events over coffee for at least 25 years.
Dalton was 2nd lieutenant for Happy’s Rotten Kids. This included being the head bragger, shopping for favorite snacks like Brookie’s Cookies, making epic homemade slip and slides, going to McDonalds for three meals a day and feeding grand-dog, Maggie, unauthorized treats. He and Happy attended every sporting event, fair, rodeo, concert, wedding, baptism, birthday and celebration for their grandkids that they could. This was a priority. He often laughed about the grandkids calling their home Happy’s House until the last grandchild, Bella, came along and called it Papa’s House.
Dalton and Happy had a guest room and guest house that was rarely empty. In-laws and sometimes out-laws were welcome during transitions or hardships in their lives. It’s hard to count how many people stayed with them, but the impact of their love was large.
Dalton was a burger flipper, a milk man, a mail man, a land analyst at the potash mines, a gas station owner, a real estate investor, a farmer, a rancher and an oil man. He was interested in politics, especially those affecting Southeastern New Mexico and human rights. He, at one time, subscribed to six newspapers, which he read every morning over coffee. He listened daily to Paul Harvey and Rush Limbaugh and watched Johnny Carson every night.
He and Happy were spiritual trailblazers and started a church in his office building where anyone who loved Jesus could attend without judgment. He often said “God doesn’t plan your future based on your
past.” He was an elder at Westside Church and enjoyed making announcements during every service and bringing doughnuts to Bible class.
It sometimes took him an hour to go to the post office or the grocery store because he enjoyed talking to everyone he saw. He never met a stranger and often invited a stranger to a family dinner. Happy never complained and added a folding chair and another plate. He and Happy hosted thousands of friends and family for meals and telling stories around the dinner table was one of his favorite past times. Exaggeration was encouraged if it made a better story.
He was a New Mexico Cowbelle’s Man of the Year and served on many local, county and state committees representing the banking, ranching and oil industry. He received a Public Land Steward Award from the Central Valley Soil and Water Conservation District for using cutting edge methods for development of pastures for grazing.
He is preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Marion, Joe, Robert and Denny, his grandson, Jesse Dalton Bell, and his great grandson, Bodie Jesse Sparrow.
He is survived by his wife, his sister, Millie Bell Samuels of Lubbock, TX, his sons John Bell (Sylvia) of Weed, Fred Wotton of Denison, TX, Joel Bell of Artesia, Jeff Bell of Van Horn, TX, Jerry Bell of Hay Canyon and his daughter, Jennifer Bell Riley (Chris) of Lubbock, TX. He is also survived by Elizabeth Stephens Cleve (Bernard) of Elk and sister-in-law, Lavona Bell, of Artesia. He is survived by 16 grandchildren, over 30 great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews and everyone he considered a brother, sister, son, daughter, grandchild, niece or nephew.
Burial will be at Pinon Cemetery, Pinon, New Mexico. Dalton loved giving Happy and Jenny flowers, but he would prefer memorial contributions to be made to the Pinon Extension Club, P.O. Box 2. Pinon, NM 88344. A celebration of life service will be held at a later date.
The family would like to thank Encompass Hospice and Good Life Memory Care for the exceptional care they provided to our dad and PaPa.
Source: Terpening & Son Mortuary