BRIDGTON – Robert “Bob” C. Bell, 72, of Bridgton, died Wednesday, April 8, at the Bridgton Hospital. He died after a brief battle with melanoma.

He was born March 28, 1937, in Norway, the son of Charles P. Bell and Maybell Bartlett Bell. He was a graduate of Norway High School. After graduation, he served four years as an MP in the U.S. Air Force in Okinawa, Japan. He later went on to serve 24 years in the U.S. Army Reserves.

He started his law enforcement career as a deputy with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department. In 1972, he became the chief of police for the Bridgton Police Department, where he served for 32 years until his retirement in February 2004. During his career as the police chief of Bridgton, he was a member and past president of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, as well as their liaison for the Special Olympics of Maine.

In 1985, Bob presented the idea of the Law Enforcement Torch Run to Maine’s Special Olympics Executive Mickey Boutilier, and then to the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. As a result, the Maine Torch Run program began. He also spent countless volunteer hours in order to establish the Law Enforcement/Special Olympics Torch Run around the world. He served for six years as a member of the Maine Special Olympics board of directors and was also on the Law Enforcement/Special Olympics National Advisory Council representing Region 1 for the New England Area and New York.

In 1999, the Special Olympics of Maine established the Bob Bell Award. This award is the highest honor a member of the Maine Law Enforcement community may receive for their dedication to the Special Olympics of Maine. He is the only member of Maine Law Enforcement to be elected to the International Law Enforcement Special Olympics Hall of Fame, an award presented to him by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1997 in New York City.

He was a long-time member and two-time past president of the Bridgton Lions Club and most recently a member of the board of Selectmen for the town of Bridgton.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Janice F. Bell; his son, Gary C. Bell of Harrison; his daughter, Joleen A. Bell of Naples; his sister, Merline Martin of Norway; his brother, Lester “Skip” Bell of Atlanta, Ga.; son-in-law, Brian S. Hayes; daughter-in-law, Catherine Bell; grandchildren, Christina Dargie and Edward Radcliffe; great-grandchildren, Chloe and Tyler; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was predeceased by his brother, David Martino; his sister, Arlene Truman; and a nephew, Charles “Chuck” R. Truman.

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