Bell Funeral Home honored with historic marker

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Family and community members joined with Wilmington city officials to formally honor Delaware’s oldest African-American owned funeral home — Bell Funeral Home— with the placement of a statehistoricmarker.

The late Edward R. Bell, a former City Council MemberandAfrican-American community leader, founded the Bell Funeral Home in the 1930s. The business, located at 909 Clifford Brown Walk, has been owned and operated by members of the Bell family for three generations, including current operators J.Llewllyn Bell, Edward Bell’s nephew, and great-nephew, Kip Bell.

Edward Bell began his training at the Rose Funeral Home, and he formally studied at Eckels College of Embalming and Sanitary Science, graduating in 1928. He opened the Bell Funeral Home in 1930 in the home of his sister in the 400 blockof East 9thStreet in Wilmington. The business was then moved to 9thand Wilson Streets before finally settling at 909 Clifford Brown Walk, its present location. The funeral home is recognized by the Delaware Historical Society as one of the oldest African-American businesses in the state.

Edward Bell was the state’s first African-American Deputy Coroner as well as the first African-American member of the Penal Board for the State of Delaware. In addition, he served two terms as a Wilmington City Councilman, and owned and operated the Bell Taxi Company for more than five years.

After Bell’s death in 1983, his wife Eva and nephew, James Llewellyn,continued the mortuary business until Eva’s death in 1988, when the business passed to Llewellyn.Upon Llewellyn Bell’s retirement in 2013, his son Kip,daughter Kia,and their mother, Beverly, became the third generation of Bells to continue the business.

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