Legal 04

Robert H. Bell Sr.

April 19, 1944 ~ June 8, 2023 (age 79) 79 Years Old


The Honorable Robert Holmes Bell, Sr., age 79, of East Grand Rapids passed away peacefully on Thursday, June 8, 2023.

Judge Bell was born in Lansing, MI, the son of Preston C. and Eileen (Holmes) Bell. He graduated from Okemos High School, Wheaton College (Il.), and Wayne State University Law School. He began his career as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Ingham County in 1969, and served until he was elected a Michigan 55th District Court Judge in 1972. In 1978 he was elected a Michigan 30th Circuit Judge and served in that position until his appointment by President Ronald Reagan as United States District Judge for the Western District of Michigan, taking the oath of office on August 6, 1987. As part of his 30 years as a Federal Judge, he served as Chief Judge from 2001-2008 and fulfilled ongoing regular assignments from the 6th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals, sitting by designation. He served six years on the Criminal Law Committee for the United States' Judicial Conference, including a 3-year appointment as Chair by Chief Justice John Roberts commencing in 2010.

Committed to his family and faith, Judge Bell further enjoyed teaching Sunday School, serving on nonprofit boards, and vacationing at the family cottage in the Upper Peninsula.

At Wheaton College, he met his wife Helen Ruth Mortensen, the love of his life. The Bells have three children: Rob Jr. (Kristen), Ruth Bell Olsson (Jeffrey Olsson), and Jonathan (Lyndi). They have 6 grandchildren, Robert, III (Trace), Preston, and Violet Bell; Zinnia, Oskar, and Kagiso Olsson.

The family will receive friends at the Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Service from 2:00 to 4:00 and 6:00 to 8:00pm on Thursday, June 15. Funeral services will be held at 11:00 am Friday, June 16, at Mayflower Congregational Church, 2345 Robinson Rd. SE. Internment will be Saturday, June 17, 11:30 am, at Summit Cemetery, Williamston, MI.

Memorial contributions may be made to The Potter's House School, Grand Rapids, MI and Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.



To send flowers to the family, please visit our floral store.


June 15, 2023

2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Service
4291 Cascade Road SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

June 15, 2023

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Service
4291 Cascade Road SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Funeral Service
June 16, 2023

11:00 AM
Mayflower Congregational Church
2345 Robinson Rd. S.E.
Grand Rapids, M 49506

Graveside Service
June 17, 2023

11:30 AM
Summit Cemetery
Beeman Rd
Williamston, MI 48895


The Potter's House
810 Van Raalte Dr Sw, Grand Rapids MI 49509

Fuller Theological Seminary - Pasadena
135 N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena CA 91182


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