More to Memorials than Just Rocks
and Ruth Bell's artistry with stone is reflected
in their work.
It’s not too often one can memorialize someone,
decorate a kitchen, reward a deed and designate
a homestead all in the same place. However, Bell
Memorials in Beloit, Kansas, provides an array of
products that fit into all of these very categories.
They customize one-of-a-kind memorials, granite
countertops, etched glass, monument signs and post-rock
generation stonecutters, Jim and Ruth Bell, own
the business in Beloit along with locations in Manhattan
and Great Bend. The addition of their son, Josh
Bell, last May made six generations in the service.
Bell’s father started Bell Memorials in 1946
and sold the business to hissons in the early 80s.
Jim and Ruth purchased the company in 1990, and
they celebrated Bell Memorials’ 50th Anniversary
in 1996. In commemoration, they made a 340,300-pound
sign personally selected from a quarry in Missouri
and topped it with a gold bell. Customers guessed
the weight of the sign, and the winner received
a personalized post rock. Opening the event, Josh
and Marcella, Jim’s mother, rang the
bell strung with gold ropes to signify the beginning
of 50 more years to come.
this Limited Liability Company employs 20 individuals
between its three locations. The number of employees
has doubled twice since 1990, then employing only
three in addition to Jim and Ruth. Everything is
prepared at the Beloit site. In order to obtain
good products, the Bells believe one must first
have the talent and capabilities of putting in good
quality. In other words, quality work in, quality
work out, Ruth Bell said.
way the Bells strive to achieve that high standard
is their art facilities. Bell Memorials was one
of the first monument companies to have a computerized-art
room, which has been in operation since 1986. Currently,
they have three complete systems including three
full-time artists and one full-time etcher.
explains that they don’t sell just monuments.
One truly memorializes someone when working with
Bell Memorials. In the past, headstones contained
only names and dates. Today, customized memorials
not only include the name, birth date and death
date, they usually tell a story about that person.
For example, a spouse’s name, marriage date,
children’s names and personalized symbols
actually give viewers an
insight into a person’s life and personality.
fact, Jim and Ruth are certified memorialists through
the Monument Builders of North America (MBNA). They
both are very active in the
organization. Jim is a trustee representing the
Mid America Monument Builders Association, and Ruth
is the vice president and president-elect for the
addition, the Bells have been members of the American
Institute of Commemorative Artists (AICA) for seven
years. Only 52 monument
individuals from North American belong to the organization.
Membership is exclusive, for one must first be asked
to join and then submit an application for approval.
AICA is an excellent way to learn from the most
talented in the business,” Ruth said. They
attend the conventions, which host workshops
for the members to exchange ideas.
Memorials also uniquely craft their stone post yard
art. Farmers contract their old limestone fence
posts to the Bells who sandblast designs to create
yard art. However unlike many other companies, Bell
Memorials do not saw off the front of the posts
in order to achieve a more natural piece.
Bells are busy remodeling a new building just down
the block from their present location. It provides
more office and showroom space for the business.
They hope to be in their new home by next summer.
Bells truly love their business. Even while on vacation,
Jim and Ruth visit local cemeteries to get ideas,
Ruth said. They have build Bell Memorials into a
strong and trustworthy business and hope its traditions