Cover photo for Sandra Gayle Bell's Obituary
Sandra Gayle Bell Profile Photo
1940 Sandra 2024

Sandra Gayle Bell

January 30, 1940 — January 3, 2024

Sandra Gayle Crisp Bell, at almost 84, went home peacefully to be with God on January 3, 2024, after battling dementia for several years.

The only child born to Gay Clement Crisp and Virginia Mae Carter Crisp, Sandra arrived on January 30, 1940 in Corpus Christi, Texas.  She grew up to be a proud 5th generation Texan, as well as, proud to have some Cherokee blood running through her veins.

As a child, Sandy loved their horse, Dutchess, time with her Carter and Crisp extended families, close friendships, and quiet time reading book, after book, after book.  Her father, Gay, was in law enforcement, and they lived in Corpus Christi, South Padre Island, and Kingsville.  Virginia was a caring and loving mother to Sandy, and the two remained very close until Virginia passed away.

Sandy met the love of her life, Duane Vernon Bell, at W.B. Ray High School in Corpus Christi.  Duane was a senior transferred from McAllen and Sandy was a junior, 1956-57.  They dated for several years as Duane attended Texas A&I University in Kingsville.  Duane & Sandy married on May 12, 1961 with childhood friends, Robert S. Batte, Jr. and Mary Talley Forister, by their sides.

The Bells soon started their family and raised four children - Terri Gaye Bell Hollech (late Pete), Douglas Duane Bell (Leslie), Sheri Ann Bell Walker (Rob), Barbara Lynn Bell-Seals (Eddie), and also Vivien Forsythe Black, foreign exchange student from Northern Ireland, that became part of their family in 1982.  The Bells gave their children a very good life, and they were grounded in knowing the difference between wanting and needing.  After living in Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Bellaire/Houston, the Bells moved to McAllen in 1968 and lived there for 50 years.  In 2005, they purchased a second home in College Station and lived there permanently since 2018.  

While in McAllen, Duane farmed with his father, Everett, and brother, Jerry.  Sandy was a stay-at-home mom and was active in the PTA at Jackson Elementary.  Once their children were older (high school/junior high), she worked outside the home at Lincoln Junior High School, as secretary to the principal.  Later in life, Sandy worked on occasion, most memorably at Boardwalk Real Estate with close friend, Gerry Parker Batte Russell.

Childhood memories that Sandy gave her children include - summer afternoons swimming at the Fontana Hotel pool in Mission, often followed by Coke floats; homemade meals such as pot roast (midway through the morning you knew what was for dinner just from the wonderful aroma), mashed potatoes, goulash, fried chicken, potato salad, and sweet tea; family gatherings/meals during summer harvest season and dove hunting weekends; multi-family gatherings (backyard BBQs, lake weekends, spring breaks at South Padre Island) with dear friends, including the Batte, Brunnemann, Edrington, Hallock, Prosen and Shropshire families.

Sandy was always more of an introvert, but she developed deep, close friendships with a handful of friends over the years, including her Uncle Vernon & Aunt Shirley Crisp, Uncle Ray & Aunt Betty Crisp, Noelia Gonzalez, Ward & Dianne Morrill, Carol Powell and Jim & Carole Skloss, while also maintaining a close connection with friends mentioned previously.  

Sandy learned to crochet in the 1970’s and she could be found creating afghans for family/friends in the evenings as she watched her favorite television shows - The Carol Burnett Show, M*A*S*H and The Golden Girls, to name a few.  Her love of books never faded and Sandy became an avid collector with a wide variety of topics, especially wildflowers, birds and Texas history. Other collections included Madame Alexander and Effanbee dolls, Kachina dolls and pottery, and oh how she loved her moccasins.  Sandy also enjoyed traveling and shopping with dear friends, once the kids were grown and married.  Sandy was a giver - if she found something she liked, she probably bought one for you and each of her children!  

A few of Sandy’s favorites…Favorite Food: Tex-Mex and margaritas at Johnny’s in McAllen.   Favorite Performers: Elvis Presley and George Strait.  Favorite Hymn:  “Amazing Grace” - it brought tears to her eyes every time she heard it.  Favorite Saying:  “Hells Bells” - You knew from the bedroom that waffles were for breakfast on Saturday or Sunday morning when you heard Mom say “Dammit! Oh, Hells Bells” while the waffle maker slammed close, as the first waffle was sticking to the griddle!  

Sandra was preceded in death by her parents and her loving husband, Duane, of 59 1/2 years.  Sandra is survived by her four children, ten grandchildren - Melissa Hollech, Matt Hollech, Brianna Hollech O’Neil (Brandon), Jake Hollech, Derek Bell (Ashley), Lindsey Petitta, Amy Petitta, Jennifer Bell, Shelby Seals DeReese (Dennis) and Shawna Seals (Faust Bowerman), ten great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild, many dear aunts, uncles, cousins, brother&sister in-laws, nieces and nephews. 

Our heartfelt appreciation to the staff, nurses and administrators at Crestview (Mike, Francisco), The Langford (Stacey, Katie, Paula, Kelly, Candace, Virginia, Michelle, Tanya, and many others), her doctors (especially Dr. L. Kodali) and to the hospice nurses and staff with Acara Hospice (Lauren, Andrea, Sarah, Tara, Heidi, Dana & Stacey, and many others) for all the attention, care and love shown to our mother.

We love you and we will miss you, Momma/Ma Bell/Mom.  You were resilient, and you fought long and hard to stay here with us.  We rejoice knowing that you are now home with God our Heavenly Father, Dad, and Little Gammie & Grandaddy.  

Amazing grace!  How sweet the sound…


Of course anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can expect to read in one fleeting lifetime.  A good book, resting unopened in its slot on the shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper. 
~David Quammen
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Sandra Gayle Bell, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

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Saturday, January 13, 2024

Starts at 1:45 pm (Central time)

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Graveside Service

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Starts at 3:00 pm (Central time)

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