Bell & Associates Construction of Brentwood, Tenn., is sad to announce the passing of C. Ray Bell, founder of Ray Bell Construction Company. Mr. Bell died Saturday, September 4, 2010, in Baptist Hospital of heart failure.

Born in Scottsboro, Alabama, March 28, 1941, to William Preston and Pearl Bell, and raised in Shelbyville, Tennessee, Ray followed in his father’s footsteps and started a career in construction after graduating from the University of the South with an honors degree in English in 1963. After working for a Shelbyville construction firm for six years, Bell moved to Nashville and started Ray Bell Construction in 1969, and later was part of the creation of Bell & Associates Construction in 1997. In total, Bell watched his companies build more than $5 Billion in construction projects over their 40-year history. The partners of Bell & Associates Construction, including his two sons, Brad and Darek Bell, will continue his legacy in the coming years.

Ray Bell was also known for his devotion to giving back to such charities as the Arthritis Foundation where he was recognized for personally raising more than $1 million. He also was an active member and board member of such organizations as the Tennessee State Museum and the Tennessee Business RoundTable, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission, The Hermitage Foundation, among other great organizations. He was also a founding member of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

Ray is survived by his two sons, Brad and Darek Bell, along with their wives, Marilyn and Amy Bell, his three grandsons, Eli, Deuce and Cohen, his brother and sister-in-law, Billy and Francis Bell, his sister, Bonnie Bell, and a niece, Rita Bell Murrah, and nephew, Tony Bell.

Visitation and funeral services will be held at Brentwood Baptist Church, located at 7777 Concord Road, Brentwood, TN, 37027. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, September 7, 2010, from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., and on Wednesday, September 8, 2010, from 1-2 p.m., with funeral services taking place from 2-4 p.m. There will be a private burial for family and close friends.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Harris-Hillman Special Education School, 1706 26th Ave., South, Nashville, TN 37212.

Statement from Darek Bell, Vice President and Partner, Bell & Associates Construction

My father was my hero, my mentor, and most importantly, my best friend. He was my hero for constructing so many amazing buildings across the skyline of the city he loved, Nashville. Like all heroes he was courageous and driven. He didn’t look for what was easy in life, he loved a challenge: the bigger the better. The best motivator for Ray was telling him it couldn’t be done. He was my mentor for instilling in me the intense enthusiasm for business, construction, philanthropy, and people that was his passion in life. Every second I was with him, I learned something profound and valuable, and he never said the obvious and made you think hard and look deep within yourself. This was the key to understanding Ray: character. He was very old fashioned when it came to the importance of integrity of character. Your handshake was your handshake. Your word was your word. Who you are is the most important thing in life, and this is why he was such a great mentor to me. Finally, he was my best friend. The last nine years working with him at Bell Construction were the best times of my life. Relationships were very important to him, and he was a master at cultivating deep and lasting friendships. He was a rock for many people. Fathers and sons don’t always have the best communication, yet we used to talk for hours like old friends. Because, quite simply, we were.

I speak for the whole family in saying we are devastated at his loss. But we are thankful that he died peacefully and without pain, surrounded by his family that loved him. For someone who gave so much for others, he deserved this solace. You only get one father in life. I am the luckiest guy alive. I got the best one. I’m really going to miss him.

Statement from Keith Pyle, President and Partner, Bell & Associates Construction

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Ray. Ray was a mentor and friend to me, as well as many others in our company, the construction industry and in Tennessee. He was bigger than life, and made an impression on everyone that he came into contact with. He was one of the smartest, most well-read individuals that I ever had the chance to know, and I am honored to have known him and to have worked for him for more than 20 years.

Ray Bell had great vision and foresight as the leader of Ray Bell Construction Co., Inc. since 1969. Ray loved his employees and was concerned about their future and the continuing legacy of Ray Bell Construction in the event of his death. In 2005, Ray implemented a continuity plan with the activation of Bell and Associates, LP. Since 2005, Ray has played a reduced role in the day to day operations of Bell, but enjoyed seeing his plan come together allowing Bell and Associates to reach an even higher level of success. In early 2010, Ray completed the final phase of the continuity plan, which facilitated a seamless transition from Ray to the new generation of Bell leaders. Ray’s foresight, generosity and concern for his employees will add to his legacy and further confirm his status as one of the truly great leaders in Tennessee construction history.

Back to News