Florence "Ma" Bell
Guardian Angel - Best Known for delivering more than 100
32 years in the tiny Southeast town of Kake, Florence "Ma" Bell, 97, died Oct. 9, 1994
in Gardiner, Maine, her birthplace.
In her early years, Bell worked as a nurse
nursing instructor in hospitals and schools on the East Coast and in the South.
her first husband died, Bell joined the U.S. Public Health Service which sent
Alaska on the U.S.S. Hygiene. She soon settled in Kake, where she met and
Raymond Bell, proprietor of the town's only store.
Bell helped her husband run
store. "She had a candy section that was the best around," said Ronelle
now of Petersburg, "but she would close it during lunch, from 12 to 1, because
worried about the health of the kids."
Beardslee said Bell, who wasn't
anyone, was considered the community's matriarch. "We called her Ma Ball," said
Mayor Lonnie Anderson, who lived next door to the Bells. With no doctor in Kake
roads to other towns, Bell's role as nurse and midwife was critical to the
"She saved people's lives, you bet she did," said Lois Berkeley of Kake.
died in 1978, Florence Bell retired to Petersburg.
In 1990 the Kake Fire
escorted her back to Kake for a reception in her honor, where most of the 110
she had delivered each presented her with a rose. "She could recall every one of
by name," said Marvin Kadake, a family friend.
In 1991, the Alaska Legislature
her with a citation for humanitarianism, for years of donating food, boat travel
power from the Bells' own generator when the community was in need. The citation
her for watching over Kake "like an angel."
Source: Petersburg Pilot