Sept. 22, 1924 – Feb. 20, 2014
Gloria Katherine (Wagner) Bell, a lifelong resident of the Big Horn Basin, died peacefully while on vacation in Tucson, Ariz., on Feb. 20, 2014. She was 89.
Gloria was born to Christian and Dora (Roth) Wagner at the family home in Kane on Sept. 22, 1924. Her childhood was spent moving frequently around the Frannie, Lovell, Cowley and Deaver area to work the beet fields and helping her mother care for her siblings.
She married Robert Lewis Bell on May 12, 1945, in Red Lodge, and they began a wonderful journey that stretched for nearly 65 years.
Her longtime love of knitting started as a way to pass the time while on her extended honeymoon in Paris, Texas. Over the years, she made countless afghans, bedspreads, custom doll clothes and lap blankets for nursing home residents. Several of her creations were grand champion entries in the Park County Fair.
In 1955, Bob and Gloria purchased a store in Deaver, dubbed it Bell’s Grocery and ran it until 1983. The store quickly became the social center of Deaver. She loved visiting with customers and friends. As her family grew and grandkids were added, it became a great gathering place. Many, many memories were made at the store. Gloria was known for her kindness and often extended lines of credit or bags of food to families in need.
She had a unique sense of humor that was passed on to most of her children and grandchildren (or “brats” as she liked to call them).
An active league bowler for many years, Gloria was inducted into the Wyoming Bowling Hall of Fame and participated in the WIBC Senior Championship tournament in Reno in 1990. She was a 60-year member of the American Legion.
In 1985, the couple retired and moved to Powell. For 30 years, they traveled the world together.
They rarely missed an opportunity to attend a grandchild or great-grandchild’s sporting event, concert or celebration. The continual search for a good piece of pie prompted many afternoon road trips. Visiting family was high on their priority list, and they especially loved trips to Montana, Georgia and to Oregon to can peaches.
When Bob fell ill in 2009, they moved to the Heart Mountain area to be closer to family. Gloria lost Bob on Jan. 24, 2010. As traveling became more difficult, she spent quiet days listening to Powell High School sporting events and especially loved listening to the Powell Pioneers play. She was very fond of her cats and looked forward to Sunday breakfast outings. Though less frequent, she was still able to enjoy a visit with family in Montana occasionally.
She was preceded in death by her husband Bob Bell; siblings Paul Wagner, Bobby (Helen) Wagner, LoraMae (Grant) Howe, Sally Wagner, Teddy Wagner and Susie Haugan; brother-in-law Tom Bell; two infant sisters and grandson Robbie James.
Gloria is survived by her children Dianna (Gary) James, Ronny Bell, Debbie (Ken) Borcher and daughter-in-law Barbara Bell; nine grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren: April (Robert) Ferguson and their children Will and Ben, Kathee Burns and her children Ian and Lucy, Kendrea (Dan) Flynn and their children Collin, Ryan, Nathan and Josie, Matt James and his son Parker, Erin (Dave) Johnson and their children Kellyn and Alleigh, Shana (Andrew) Barela and their children Miles and Teagan, Desiree (Chris) Kiesel and their children Jack and Ella, Tiffany (Matt) Davies and their children Fred and Arthur, and Jessica Bell, as well as one great-great-granddaughter, Linley Belle.
She also is survived by brothers Chris (Giovanna) Wagner, Phillip (JoAnn) Wagner and Jack Wagner; sister Rachel (Jim) Radden; sisters-in-law Garnet Wagner, Della Wagner and Florence (Fred) Wambeke and brother-in-law Don Haugan.
A memorial service has been planned for April 12 at 11 a.m. at the Mountain View Clubhouse on Heart Mountain.