Ronnie Hoyt Bell, 65: Entrepreneur, philanthropist

Ron Bell didn’t let his passion for making money for investors stand in the way of his passion for donating money to worthy causes.

Whether it was contributing to the March of Dimes or Girl Talk Inc., a mentoring program, giving back to the community was an important part of the Emory University MBA’s outlook on life.

“He believed in investing in people,” said Mr. Bell’s daughter, Dr. Kelli Ritter of Atlanta. “He believed that when you invest in people, you get your return on investment.”

Ronnie Hoyt Bell, 65, an Atlanta entrepreneur and philanthropist, died Feb. 18 at Hospice Atlanta after a 2 1/2-year battle with pancreatic cancer. A memorial service will be held 3 p.m. Sunday at Unity North Church in Marietta. Byars Funeral Home & Cremation Services of Cumming is handling arrangements.

Mr. Bell was born April 9, 1946, in Tullahoma, Tenn., but grew up in Springfield, Tenn., the only child of Hoyt and Roberta Bell. He attended Vanderbilt University on a football scholarship and obtained an electrical engineering degree in 1968 with the intention of helping with the family's radio station in Springfield. Mr. Bell’s heart, however, was tuned to Wall Street.

“He was turned on by the stock market as a young boy,” Dr. Ritter said. “Nothing made him more excited than making money for other people -- and for himself.”

Mr. Bell earned an MBA from Emory in 1970 and eventually joined Atlanta-based National Service Industries, where he worked for more than a decade. After leaving the  textile rental and envelope business, he founded his own company in 1984, the investment services provider Bell Capital Management.

Mr. Bell headed Bell Capital until two years ago, when his health began to fail, his daughter said. The illness, however, didn't prevent her father from starting another investment firm, RHB Wealth Management LLC.

Philanthropy was also important to Mr. Bell and he founded Bell Family Foundation of Hope in 1992.

The foundation has provided athletic scholarships at Georgia Tech, Emory and Kennesaw State University, Dr. Ritter said. Several organizations also have benefited, including the March of Dimes; Cumberland Academy of Georgia, a private school for children with special needs; the Center for Children and Young Adults, a shelter for abused and neglected youths; and Girl Talk Inc., a student-to-student mentoring program that pairs middle school girls with high school girls.

Haley Kilpatrick, founder and executive director of Girl Talk, said Mr. Bell, who served on the group's board of directors, was the most generous supporter of the organization in recent years.

“Ron Bell is one of the most genuine, caring and giving people I know," Ms. Kilpatrick said. "Like so many others, I looked to Ron for direction and inspiration. I will always appreciate the impact he had on Girl Talk and the thousands of girls we serve, thanks to his belief in our mission and his unwavering support.”

Mr. Bell met his wife, Patricia, in 1980 when the Charlotte native was working as a paralegal at an Atlanta law firm Mr. Bell had visited. They dated for five years and married in 1985.

“It was amazing to be his daughter,” said Dr. Ritter, a parenting counselor and the couple's only child. “Everything he did he did with great intensity and great care. I never ever saw him do anything haphazardly, both in parenting and work."

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Bell is survived by his mother, Roberta Locke Bell of Springfield, Tenn.; two grandsons, Rylan and Peyton Ritter of Atlanta; and son-in-law Curtis Ritter of Atlanta.