Dr. William E. Bell, known as Bill, age 93, of Chapel Hill, NC, died at the Jim and Betsy Bryan Hospice Home on June 28, 2023. He was preceded in death by his parents, Ross O. Bell and Sarah Hyde Bell, and his brother Ross O. Bell, Jr. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Dr Gail A. McGuinness and his children from a previous marriage, Kendall Myers (Tony) and Kirkpatrick Bell (Jarrod Harms), and three grandchildren, Claire (Wes Spading), Bryn (Travis Hattery), and Max Myers.
Bill was born in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 31,1929. He attended West Virginia University as an undergraduate and received his MD degree from the Medical College of Virginia in 1955. He completed training in neurology and pediatrics at the University of Iowa and was board certified in neurology, child neurology and pediatrics. He served as a Captain in the USAF from 1959 to 1962 stationed in Japan as the only Air Force neurologist in the Pacific. Upon completion of his military service he joined the faculty at the University of Iowa where he served as the Director of the Division of Child Neurology. He retired as a Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Pediatrics and Neurology in 1997.
Bill played a significant role in the development and advancement of child neurology as a clinical discipline and over the course of his career mentored over 350 trainees. He was a consummate teacher, a superb diagnostician and a sought after lecturer. The most satisfying aspect of his academic career was the time he spent with trainees. After retirement and relocation to Chapel Hill, he served as a volunteer teaching faculty at both Duke and UNC in the Departments of Pediatrics.
Among his numerous publications are two widely recognized textbooks on “Neurologic Infections in Children” and “Increased Intracranial Pressure in Children”. He was one of eight founding members of the Child Neurology Society, served as a director and oral examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and was elected president of the board in 1992 . Bill received numerous awards and recognitions over his career including the John B. Hower Award in 1996 presented annually for the greatest contribution to the development and advancement in the field of Child Neurology both national and internationally. There is an endowed chair in his name at the Stead Children’s Hospital at the University of Iowa, the William E. Bell/ Gail A. McGuinness Chair in Neurodevelopment.
Bill had wide-ranging interests and an astounding fund of knowledge in many areas outside of medicine. He read voraciously and was an avid book collector. He enjoyed travel, good food and wine, and was a skilled amateur photographer. He loved the outdoors, especially Nantucket Island, where he and his wife Gail visited annually for over 40 years. And most of all, he took great pride in the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren.
Interment of cremains will be private. Memorial gifts may be made to the University of Iowa Foundation directed to the Stead Family Children’s Hospital or to the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.
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