Obituary: John Bell

Longtime Malibu resident John Bell died last week due to complications from COVID-19.   

Bell lived in Paradise Cove for decades where he built many striking and innovative houses that set a new standard for mobile home living.  He leaves behind two sons, Jimmy and Billy Gamboa; his daughter-in-law Kim Bordenave Gamboa and grandson James; and his wife, Sandy.  No arrangements for a memorial have been made at this time due to the quarantine measures in effect in California.

In addition to designing and building many beautifully crafted homes for citizens of Malibu, Bell made countless contributions to the community he so loved.  He started the very first Malibu High School Christmas tree lot, and served as the first president of the Malibu High School Athletic Boosters Club.  Bell was president of the Kiwanis Club for two years, and with his friends, co-founded Night Time Medic, the first urgent care facility in Malibu.  He was a past president of the Malibu Boardriders.

“Whenever you saw John, there was always a smile on his face,” his wife Sandy wrote. “He was always upbeat, and always strived to see the best in people. In short, he was a good, kind man who loved and supported me and his stepsons, Billy and Jimmy.  And he also loved this city and the people in it.  He was thrilled to see our community grow and develop over the years, and he was a major contributor to that growth.”

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.  And on Monday afternoon, a group of 50 neighbors from Paradise Cove and Pt. Dume mobile home parks drove by Sandy Bell’s house to wave to her in a social distancing tribute to her husband.

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

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“John was a hardworking and kind man—always smiling,” said Council Member Rick Mullen, who was a neighbor to Bell.

“John Bell was a throwback to another era,” says David Weddle, a television writer/producer and friend of Bell’s. “An era when people strived to see the best in each other and to support one another and treated each other with dignity and affection.  We could all learn from his example of what it means to be a good citizen of your community.”

In lieu of flowers, the family wishes to have donations made to the Friends of Malibu Urgent Care via the website or checks payable to Friends of Malibu Urgent Care 23656 Pacific Coast Hwy.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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