On Thursday, June 7, the Clinton Recreation and Parks Department honored long time employee Henry Bell at a retirement luncheon. Bell served as a part of the parks maintenance crew and spent the past few years primarily taking care of Fisher Drive Park. The dedicated employee has served the department for 43 years.
Bell began working for the City of Clinton on July 1, 1969, a full year before the city officially took over Clinton Recreation from the founding recreation commission. Over the years, he has seen many changes take place, including the development of Royal Lane Park in the 70’s. Where once all activities were held at Fisher Drive Park, the majority of the athletics program was moved to the larger Royal Lane facility and Fisher Drive has gone from being the hub of the recreation department to a role as a more passive park.
“We are so grateful to Mr. Bell for his many years of service,” said Recreation director Judi Nicholson, “He is the perfect example for young people today to look at for a role model. His cheerful attitude and smile are missed as much as the work he did for the department and we wish him the best in his retirement,” add Nicholson.
Not only has Bell worked for CRPD, he began work with the city as head custodian at Clinton at what is now Sunset Avenue Elementary School.
“Mr. Sykes was superintendent when I started. Graham Bennett helped me get the job. I worked full time with the schools and part-time with the recreation department. I have enjoyed my many years working with the City of Clinton at Clinton High and especially with the recreation department,” remarked Bell.
Bell explained that he would go from one recreation location to another and clean. “I would start at the Bellamy Center, then move to the old Putt-Putt building then on to the main office and finally to Fisher Drive where I would mainly mow grass and keep the grounds clean. There was always something to do,” asserted Bell.
Now that he is retired, Bell stated that he still goes by to check and see if they are keeping up appearances.
“I grew up as a farmer in the Poplar Grove area. Daddy had me splitting middles with the mules. It was hard work but we got it done,” explained the retiree. “I got a chance to work with the schools so I took the chance and I am glad I did.”
Bell has five children that he is very proud of and plans now to spend more time with since he has retired. “I have one son and four daughters and they are all doing well for themselves. I have so many grandchildren I cannot list the number, but they are spread from New York to California,” shared Bell.
When asked what he planned to do now that he was retired, Bell responded, “Well I am still the custodian at my church, Poplar Grove Missionary Baptist, and I plan to keep doing that until I can’t anymore. I have always found something to do and I can’t stop now. I really enjoy mowing grass and weed eating. I plan to keep doing it unless I get sick, and I am rarely sick, which is another blessing I have received,” expressed Bell.
Bell jokingly said that because he was small in stature, he tried never to get into a fight. “I would advise people to try to stay out of trouble. My dad always taught me to do my best and I have tried to do good and treat others like I want them to treat me. That is what I would advise people for a good long life,” asserted Bell.
“My work has not been hard. I did my job and tried to make sure people knew I had been there. No one complained so I guess I did my job. People respect me and I do the same of them. I hope to keep busy until the Lord decides it is my time,” said Bell.
Nicholson believes Bell won’t be idle, a testament to all his hard word while with the city.
“Bell’s dedication to his job and strong work ethic will be missed and he will be difficult to replace. But, the recreation department’s loss will be his family and his church’s gain as he has expressed the desire to spend more time with his family and doing things for the church,” attested Nicholson.