Joan Bell, 88, Sidney, MT

Funeral services for Joan Bell, 88, Sidney are at 10 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at Assembly of God Church, Sidney, MT with Pastor Tom Foisy and Pastor Dustin Morgan officiating. Interment will be in Sidney Cemetery, Sidney, MT. Fulkerson-Stevenson Funeral Home are caring for the family. Visitation will be on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the funeral home and one hour before services at the church. Remembrances, condolences, and pictures may be shared with the family at

When God called Joan Bell, 88, to her Heavenly home, after a short, but valiant fight with pancreatic cancer, she was willing, waiting and ready to go. In her home, as was her desire, surrounded by the love and presence of her precious family, Joan peacefully slipped from this earth into Heaven on Jan. 31, 2023.

Joan Louise (Knels) Bell was born on June 4, 1934, during The Great Depression, to Dave and Elizabeth (Klempel) Knels. Sidney, MT. Her family lived in the Bloomfield area at the time of her birth. When Joan was nearly 6 years old, her father passed away from pneumonia. For a short time, her mother and two younger sisters, Betty and Vera, moved in with her grandmother, until their house could be moved from Bloomfield to Sidney, in time for Joan to attend the first grade. The girls were very excited to move to town because they would have an indoor bathroom.

Joan graduated from Sidney High School in 1952. Following graduation, she worked at The Yellowstone Mercantile, in the dry goods department and sold clothing upstairs. In the spring of 1953, Joan met Robert "Bob" Bell working at the Wheel Inn Café which Bob's mother and sister had recently opened. Joan had a spot on her jacket and Bob was sure there was some spot remover in the back of the café so he invited her back. The spot was removed and a spark of love began. They were married Sept. 17, 1954.

Bob and Joan started their home and family on a small farm southeast of Sidney along the Yellowstone River, where they remained for 36 years, before moving to town. Their marriage was blessed with five children; a daughter, Jolene, and four sons, Randy, Rodney, Raymond and Ryan. Joan enjoyed very much her role as mother, and lived it well.

Joan kept busy as a young mom taking care of the kids and managing her home. In addition to being a homemaker, she spent 29 years driving school bus for Rau School and Sidney Public Schools, along with her husband. She raised large gardens, stocking her shelfs and freezers with her home canning, or sharing the fruits of her labors with others. Joan can be remembered for selling sweet corn. Often on a fall day, she and her sons could be found in the field picking corn which they would take to town and sell out of the back of their pick-up. The proceeds always went for something special in her home. She loved inviting friends over for a fun day of freezing corn together.

Joan had a lifelong dream of building a new home for the enjoyment of her family, and that dream came true in 1990. She had a true gift of hospitality, and enjoyed serving others by sharing her home, a meal, or a welcoming bed, with relatives, church friends, community friends, Bible study groups, special speakers, missionaries, or coffee friends. Outside, she was a skilled landscaper. Her beautiful yard was used as a backdrop for many professional photographers.

But most of all, Joan thoroughly loved sharing her home with her family. Her door was always open to them; often with a hug and a fresh cookie in hand. Even up until her death, her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren frequently dropped in for a loving visit. She especially enjoyed the little great-grands, and was known to them as Granny B. Joan was an excellent cook and baker. Nothing would please her more than to entertain her family over a good home-cooked meal for holidays, birthdays, or Sunday night popcorn, followed by a game of Rook. The savor of her yummy cinnamon rolls, buns, banana bread, sugar cookies and pancake rolls will long be remembered. Her Sidney grandchildren will always remember how she invited them over for lunch once a week, throughout their high school years. If desired, they could also bring a friend along with them. She touched many lives as various kids entered her door for a meal, and were warmed by her gracious hospitality. Joan had a yearly Christmas tradition of inviting her grandchildren over to set up the nativity, recall the Christmas Story together, and have Grandma's waffles. This was followed by a game of Hide the Thimble.

Bob's Pick-Up & Delivery kept Joan busy working full-time in the office for many years. After she stepped back from Bob's and completed the building of her new home, she felt God's call to share her faith with other women by becoming a Special Speaker at Christian Women's Clubs throughout MT and ND, frequently taking along a granddaughter, sister or friend. She also joined a local walking and coffee group of ladies who she continued to meet with until recent health issues prevented her attending. Some of these ladies remain her dear friends today. Joan and Bob enjoyed several group bus tours across the country, and made new friends from many places.

However, the greatest blessing in Joan's life was her close-knit loving family. She loved attending many school activities, sporting events, church programs, and anything else her children or grandchildren were a part of; some taking her out of state, or even out of country - traveling to Australia with a grandson who sang in a boy choir. Whether it was picnics on the banks of the Yellowstone, four-wheeling in the hills, taking meals to the field, hosting cousin sleepovers, having granddaughter tea parties, or baking cookies together, Joan was ALWAYS giving of herself, her time, and her resources to her family. She also cherished yearly visits with her two sisters, whom she shared time with shortly before being diagnosed with cancer.

Besides working in her yard, quilting was another one of Joan's favorite pastimes. She enjoyed socializing with friends at quilting classes, and learning new techniques together. She made many beautiful and unique quilts for family members, herself, and others, until her eyesight failed. Joan was a great seamstress, sewing clothes and other fun projects. She also enjoyed the art of basket weaving. Joan's handwork was always neat and meticulous. In the community Joan enjoyed volunteering at the hospital gift shop.

Faith in Jesus was a very important and real part of Joan's life. As a teenager at Bible Camp, she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She, along with her husband and children faithfully attended church. Joan led Bible studies in her home, served on the church board, taught Sunday School and Bible School classes, directed children's and teen's programs, sang special music in church, counseled at youth camps, and served in many hospitality areas. She studied and read her Bible regularly, and was a great prayer warrior – especially for her family. She led her children and family in the ways of the Lord, and served as a great example to them on how to live the Christian life.

Joan will be missed greatly for her enormous heart that loved her family and friends well. She was very intentional about keeping the family close, by making time and creating memories for each one. She was the "glue" that bound them together and the "newspaper" that kept each informed about the other, because she took great interest in each one's life. She was also a very caring and devoted friend; loved by all. Joan enjoyed being busy, and always found something to do in and around her home. She had great ingenuity. Everything she did was extremely organized and well-kept. She was a woman of strength and endurance to the very end. She had a great ability to plan, and followed through with her plans......even to the point of planning much of her own funeral. But most of all, Joan loved Jesus, and during her final days, still encouraged others to experience His love and forgiveness.

She will never leave us, because we will always carry her memories and love deep in our hearts.

Joan was preceded in death by Bob, her husband of 64 years; Brennan Bell, her 4-month-old grandson; and her parents.

Surviving Joan are her daughter Jolene (Dave) LaBar, Union City, Michigan; sons Randy (Carla) Bell, Billings, MT; Rodney (Jan) Bell, Raymond (Trish) Bell, and Ryan (Nicki) Bell, all of Sidney; sisters Betty Miller (Johnny), Billings, MT; and Vera Rediger, Albuquerque, NM; sister-in-law Jená Bell, Garrison, ND; 13 grandchildren, Daniel (Dorothy) LaBar, Darin (Elise) LaBar, Daryl (Ashley) LaBar, Shannon (Tom) Foisy, Brittany (Josh) Cuellar, Devin (Kaitlin) Bell, Brianna (Anthony) Red Cloud, Karina (Lance) De Zwarte, Shania (James) Rohner, Tobin Bell, Brady (Bethany) Bell, Jory and Jace Bell; and 18 great-grandchildren with two on the way.

Friends are welcome to visit to share memories of Joan or leave condolences for her family. Memorials in Joan's name may be made to: Eastern Montana Bible Camp, C/O Melissa Raisl, 1475 Rd 439, Bloomfield, MT 59315; Foundation for Community Care, 221 2nd St NW, Sidney, MT 59270, or the charity of one's choice.


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