John Bell, Longtime Malibu Resident, Killed By Virus


Longtime Malibu resident John Bell died this week, becoming the first confirmed Malibu resident to have died due to complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. 

Bell’s wife, Sandy, confirmed John died after testing positive for the virus.

The longtime contractor had lived in Paradise Cove for decades, and recently moved to the Point Dume Club, according to a friend of the family. 

He leaves behind two stepsons, Billy and Jimmy Gamboa, and his wife, Sandy, who is under quarantine at home.

No arrangements have been published.

His wife wrote that Bell started the very first Malibu High School Christmas tree lot and served as the very first president of the MHS Athletic Boosters Club.

Bell was president of the Kiwanis Club for two years, and with his friends, co-founded Night Time Medic, the first emergency room in Malibu.

He was president for one year of the Malibu Boardriders.

“If you saw John, it was always with a smile and a wave,” Sandy wrote. “I mean this from the bottom of my heart, He was a good, kind man. With only love for me, Billy and Jimmy.

“To our beloved Malibu, stay safe, stay indoors, and save a life,” Sandy added.

An outpouring of support came from the Malibu community upon hearing the news of Bell’s death, with dozens of posts appearing on the KBUU Radio Malibu Facebook group.

“He worked incredibly hard and always had a smile on his face,” Wendy Cary wrote. “John had a gift when it came to motivating kids. There was always a clear understanding that ‘respect’ was a two-way street.”

“John was a hardworking and kind man—always smiling,” Council Member Rick Mullen, who said he was a neighbor of the family, wrote.

Earlier this week, Pepperdine University disclosed that Emeritus Professor Wayne Strom had died of complications from COVID-19, marking the first confirmed death in the Malibu community, although it was now known where Strom resided, where he died or whether he kept an office at Pepperdine. Strom became a fulltime faculty member at Pepperdine in 1970 and his relationship with the school spanned half a century.

University president Jim Gash said in a published statement, “this tragedy brings into sharp focus the heavy toll that this pandemic is having a human life.”

Gash went on to say, “my heart goes out to each of you as we all grapple not only with the impact that this virus is having countless others around the world but also on our Pepperdine family.”