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BELL, PAUL GERVAIS, JR.
BELL, PAUL GERVAIS, JR. (1922–2016). Paul Gervais Bell, Jr., Houston general contractor, philanthropist, and non-academic historian, was born on July 15, 1922, at Camp Knox, Kentucky, to Paul Gervais Bell, Sr., and Mary Shepard Bryan. Bell went by his first name in the construction industry but used his middle name in other areas of his life. In 1932 Bell moved with his family to Houston, where he would spend most of the remainder of his life. He married Sue Ledbetter on February 9, 1952, and the couple had four children: Paul Gervais Bell III, Susan Ledbetter Bell Boykin, Lewis Bryan Bell II, and Stephen Austin Bell.
After graduating from Lamar High School in 1939, Bell attended the New Mexico Military Institute and graduated in 1942. By 1943 Bell followed family tradition of military service and volunteered in the United States Army. During World War II he served as an officer in the 772nd Tank Destroyer Battalion in the European Theater of Operations and spent time as a prisoner of war. He earned a Purple Heart and a European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars as well as other honors. Bell continued service in the Army Reserves after the war and achieved the rank of captain in 1949 before being honorably discharged in 1954. He also attended the University of Texas at Austin and in 1947 was listed as a senior in the school’s yearbook The Cactus.
After his military service, Bell began his long career in the construction industry. He founded P. G. Bell Company in the 1950s and later Amistad Construction. As a board member for the Texas Medical Center, he contributed to the complex’s construction, and also served as board member for the Thermal Energy Corporation, which fulfills the medical center’s heating and cooling needs. He was one of three founders of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) Texas Building Branch and served as president and director of that organization. He also served as president, director, and labor chairman of the Houston AGC and as director of the National AGC. He retired in 1990.
Bell was very active in philanthropic and historical organizations and served as a board member for Glenwood Cemetery and St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. He was active in the Book Club of Texas and San Jacinto Museum of History, and was a member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, Knights of the Order of San Jacinto, San Jacinto Descendants, Huguenot Society of the State of South Carolina, and Society of the Cincinnati of the State of South Carolina. He also served as president (1998–99) of the Texas State Historical Association. In 1999 he privately published My War Story, an account of his military career and war experiences.
Paul Gervais Bell died at the age of ninety-four on October 31, 2016, in Houston. His memorial service was held at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, where he was a longtime member, and he was buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston. Two of Bell’s sons, Lewis Bryan Bell II and Stephen Austin Bell, predeceased him.
Paul G. Bell Papers, 1824–1877, 1912, 1937–2002, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Houston Chronicle, November 4, 2016. Pat, Kiley, “Paul Gervais Bell Jr. (1922–2016): Statesman—Patriot—Leader,” Construction Citizen (http://www.constructioncitizen.com/blog/paul-gervais-bell-jr-1922-2016-statesman-patriot-leader/1611161), accessed November 29, 2016. “Paul Gervais Bell, Jr,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=bell&GSfn=paul&GSmn=gervais&GSby=1922&GSbyrel=in&GSdy=2016&GSdyrel=in&GSob=n&GRid=172243365&df=all&), accessed December 12, 2016.
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Uploaded on February 14, 2017. Modified on June 13, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.