Music 05

James Bell

November 7, 1944 ~ November 4, 2021 (age 76)

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James Bell was born November 7, 1944, to John Bell, Sr. and Julia Foster Bell.  He was the second of four sons born to the couple in Union Springs, AL. 

Like a lot of families in that area in the 1940’s James’ parents moved north to Detroit as part of the black migration movement leaving James and his older brother, John, in Alabama with his grandparents.  While in Detroit, the Bells divorced and Mrs. Bell moved to Florida and then here to Cleveland, Ohio with her two youngest sons, Jimmie Lee and Neatwood.   Once here, she met and married Milton Foster and they were able to reunite her sons and the family did well.

James graduated from East High where he was a member of the school marching band.  This was the beginning of his lifelong interest in music.  While in high school, he and his brothers started singing with different groups of friends and later after high school formed the group “The Bell Brothers” and became quite popular locally.  It is little known that James achieved some success as a song writer and lyricist.  He pinned the lyrics to 3 songs in the 70’s, I Tried, Dana Records, Searching in Vain, DeBrossard Records, What Happens Now?, J. Brinson, John Bell & James Bell, Capri Records.  He also did lyrics for L.J. Reynolds.  He continued to write and compose music throughout his life and has copywrites on a prolific body of work. 

His music interests did not end with writing.  James rejoined his family church in 1993 and immediately joined the male chorus. This was one of his happiest occupations. He also served as Sunday School Superintendent and served as a Deacon until his death.  James enjoyed church and never turned down an opportunity to serve wherever needed.

James married twice during his lifetime, first, his high school sweetheart, Julia and they had two children, JaLitha and James, II.  His second and current spouse is Patricia. James is survived by his wife Patricia, his daughter and son and a stepson, Raymon King, Jr.  He also has four grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.  James has two surviving brothers, John, Jr., and Jimmie Lee. His younger brother Neatwood pre-deceased him.  James also has a large family of nieces, nephews, and cousins, not just here in Cleveland, but in several states.

James retired from then East Ohio Gas Company (now Dominion) in the year 2000 after 20 plus years of service.  He started as a janitor and worked his way into management and a Customer Service Supervisor.  Over the years with the Gas Company, he received many awards and citations for service.  After a year of retirement James grew bored and decided to go back to work in a position created for him and his impressive skill set as a Rehab Specialist for the City of Shaker Heights. His work was used as an example and model copied by suburban municipalities through out the country to fight the housing blight caused by the failed real estate market and the ‘flipping’ movement in the early 2000’s.

James had many interests and throughout his life made many friends. To the dismay of those of us who love him, he passed away on November 4, 2021, at 1:59pm, three days before his 77th birthday. Already he is missed.


To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James Bell, please visit our floral store.


Public Walk Through & Viewing
November 11, 2021

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Gaines Funeral Home
5386 Lee Road
Maple Heights, OH 44137

November 12, 2021

10:00 AM
Second Mt Carmel Baptist Church
5713 Kinsman Road
Cleveland, OH 44104

Celebration of Life
November 12, 2021

10:30 AM
Second Mt Carmel Baptist Church
5713 Kinsman Road
Cleveland, OH 44104

Interment following funeral service
November 12, 2021

12:30 PM
Cleveland Memorial Garden
4324 Green Rd.
Highland Hills, Ohio 44122

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