Dorothy "Jean" J. Bell

Hale, Michigan
July 29, 1936 - May 9, 2021


Visitation for Jean will take place from 3-8:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at Buresh Funeral Home, 121 South Washington Street, Hale, Michigan 48739.

Service Location

Esmond Evergreen Cemetery


A graveside ceremony will be held at 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 12, 2021 at Esmond Evergreen Cemetery.

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Obituary Notice

Dorothy “Jean” Bell 7/26/36 to 5/9/21
Jean was born on 7/26/36 to Art Peters and his wife Frances Hansen. In July of 1954 she was married to Neil Bell and they remained married for 60 years. They are survived by Jean’s sister Bunny Bissonnette, step brother Brownie [Norma] Holmes and their children Joe [Mary Kay] Bell, Mike [Sheryl] Bell, Linda [Justin] Waters, Donna Bell, and Glen Bell and his partner Barb. Jean also had 14 grandchildren, 33 great grandchildren, and 2 great-great grandchildren. Jean was preceded in death by Neil and her parents, 2 sisters Joyce Saunders and Beatty Bernard, an unnamed daughter who died at birth and grandson Nate Payne
Jean and Neil raised their family in Hale Michigan. Jean worked for the Hale Area Schools for 30 years as first a bus driver, then as an office clerk and secretary who also helped supervise the commons area at the high school. She truly loved her work and would have kept working longer if she could have.
Jean was an awesome cook and baker! She made wedding cakes and award winning homemade breads and preserves. She was an avid reader and loved music, also playing accordion and keyboards. Jean loved genealogy and history. She and her sister Beatty wrote and published a history of the Hale Area Schools. Jean went on to publish 2 more history books on her own.[Hale and Up the Tracks 1&2] She had at one time over 6,000 historical pictures that she loved to collect.
Jean had a kind and caring heart and loved her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren very much! She and Neil also had over 90 foster children and foreign exchange students in their home over 25 years, and one year were named Foster Parents of the Year for the State of Michigan! They were both born again Christians and very active in the Hale Baptist Church most of their lives helping teach Sunday school, bible school, driving the bus and working in the nursery. Jean was a Lifetime member of the Hale American Legion Auxiliary holding many offices including president.
Jean loved sports and games very much and was extremely competitive! Family poker games were a passion for her, especially in her later years. She was known to frequently try to bluff! She also had a deep passion for fishing, whether it was pan fishing a local lake or hitting the Great Lakes for salmon and walleye. She made several trips to Ontario camping and fishing with family and friends. She even fished in tournaments and occasionally won a little money.
Visitation for Jean will take place 3-8:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at Buresh Funeral Home, 121 South Washington Street, Hale, Michigan. A graveside ceremony will be held on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. at Esmond Evergreen Cemetery in Hale, Michigan. Jean’s family will visit with family and friends at the cemetery as well Wednesday morning from 11:00 a.m. until the time of the ceremony at Noon. The family requests that donations be directed to the Ticket to Dream Foundation or any organization supporting foster families. Online condolences may be offered at


Ticket to Dream Foundation
1400 Rocky Ridge Drive Suite 280
Roseville, CA 95661


Esmond Evergreen Cemetery, Hale, Michigan


Prayers for her family...she was amazing woman and mentor for so many children. with the angels.
— Connie Harris (Harvey)
So sorry to hear of Jean’s passing. Hugs and prayers to the entire family!!!!
— Terri & Pat Robson
So sorry to hear about Jean, she was a great lady she told us all many stories she will be missed my condolences to her family
— Sandra Denstedt
So very sorry for the family’s loss. She was an amazing woman and I am lucky to have lived across the street from her most of my life. She made the best homemade bread and jam I’ve ever had. She will be missed dearly.
— Alicia Putnam
My deepest sympathy to the family. She was an incredible lady. There was nothing she couldn't do. I remember jam time! She will be greatly missed and never forgotten ♡ R.I.P. Mrs. Bell ♡
— Pam Green
So sorry for you loss, thoughts and prayers to the family.
— Michelle Rousseau
Thank you Jean for the pleasure of your company and goodies you brought to our fish camp and trips. You will be surely missed but fish stories you created will forever be told and remembered. Fish on Ma
— William Weber
We are so sorry to hear of the passing of Jean, but what a legacy she left behind! The impact she had on those foster children will have a ripple effect for generations. Thank you for thinking of Ticket to Dream as a final tribute to Jean and her heart for children in foster care. All of us at Ticket to Dream are wrapping you up in love.
— Ticket to Dream Foundation
Very sorry for your loss.
— G Meyer
I am so sad to hear of Jean's passing. She was an amazing lady with many talents and will be missed by her family and community.
I am keeping you and her in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs.
— Sandi Helms
On behalf of the BRUMFIELD family, my parents Dale and Betty, Michael, Penny, David, Judy and myself, we extend our deepest condolences to not just the immediate Bell family but to the Community of Hale who lost a much loved, much admired woman. There were so few that impacted so many like Jean did. In my heart she will always be Mom.

To me, the smell of fresh bread has brought Jeans image to my mind since I was a child. I shall be happy that that will always continue.

May the tears of loss be short lived, replaced by the many laughs and loving memories of her life.
— Tom Brumfield
I remember Jean and Neil with great fondness. They opened their home and their hearts to so many children who truly needed and were able to benefit so much from their love and guidance. As a social worker who placed many children over several years with the Bells, I fully supported their nomination and was so happy for them when they received the recognition of being the State of Michigan Foster Parents of the Year during one of those years. They were an exceptional couple. I am sending my condolences to the Bell family.
— Barbara Kanaga
Jean lives on in the books she left us. Thank you Jean. You were a wonder and will be missed.
— Tammy Marshall

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