January 1, 1934 – February 6, 2022
It is with great sadness that the Bell Family is announcing the passing of Ethel Louise Bell on February 6th, 2022 at the age of 88. Ethel was co- founder of Three Valley Gap with her late husband, Gordon Bell.
Ethel was born in Santa Barbara, California on January 1, 1934 to Ernest and Daisy Cass, and grew up in Lompoc, California. A very talented musician, she played many different instruments not only in school bands but also in small trios or quartets for various clubs’ gatherings. She served on the Methodist Church Choir for 6 years and was the organist for a year. She also taught music teachers how to play piano so they could teacher their students how to play. Ethel was active in sports as well, she loved playing football. Ethel was a graduate of the Lompoc High School Class of ’51. Soon after graduation, the Cass family drove to Revelstoke, BC to attend Ethel’s grandfather’s funeral. This is when Ethel met Gordon Bell.
In 1953 Ethel married Gordon in Lompoc, California and they made their home first in Edmonton, Alberta, and then in Regina. Over the next 8 years Gordon designed and built approximately 800 houses. Ethel and Gordon’s 4 children were born from 1954 to 1961 which kept Ethel very busy, looking after the kids as well as doing the bookkeeping for the business. They lived in some of the new houses until they sold, and then the family would move into another house.
Ethel and Gordon wanted to build a complex in BC and Ethel insisted that they find a spot near water. They bought the property at Three Valley in 1956. They had been collecting antiques for years, starting with vintage cars, and eventually moving up to heritage buildings. They started building Three Valley Gap in 1959, mostly on weekends. Gordon and Ethel would pack up the children and drive from Regina (over 800 miles on the Big Bend Highway) and work all weekend, then drive back. Three Valley Motel opened in 1960 and the Bell Family moved from Regina to Three Valley in 1964.
In the 1960’s tourism was just starting to develop in BC, so Ethel and Gordon had to work hard not just to build Three Valley Gap, but also to help build tourism as an industry and get visitors to come to BC. Throughout the years Gordon and Ethel travelled to meetings and tourism marketing conventions throughout Canada and the United States. They always drove and took time to do research on the way; visiting every tourism spot, every railway roundhouse, every covered bridge…
Every winter they would also drive to California to visit Ethel’s relatives. This also included a few days to go to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm and of course, going on the rides for research. After Gordon’s passing in 2007, Ethel continued to attend tourism marketing conventions and driving to California with her daughter, Rene. Ethel was always ready to go on a road trip and loved sitting in the car and watching the world go by.
Ethel received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. Senator Nancy Greene Raine presented Ethel with the medal for her lifelong pursuit of preserving Canadian history for future generations and for her pioneering spirit helping build and operate a lasting legacy for her family while influencing the growth of tourism in B.C.
For the past number of years, Ethel could be found every day keeping council in the office at 3 Valley. Sitting quietly, keeping an eye on everyone, greeting all staff and visitors with a smile. She will be missed.
Ethel leaves to cherish her memory: one son, George Bell (Rosina), 3 daughters: Carol Ferguson (Dave), Melody Keates and Rene Bell Bourget (Pierre); 12 grandchildren: Jeany Keates (Chris), Josh Andrykew (Sally), Diana Bostock (Chris), Mike Bell (Robyn), Corey Ferguson, Kristy Staltari (Domenic), Kevin Keates (Rose), Courtney Pinkenberg (Tim), Tyson Andrykew (Lisa), Sean Ferguson (Taryn), Ainsley Bell (Matt), Jordan Andrykew (Nina); 21 great grandchildren: Brooklyn, Brody, Cooper, Luke, Frank, Jack, Daisy, Marinella, Nate, Cora, Jacob, Eleanor, Henry, Oscar, Molly, Ayda, Max, Mila, Luca, Sam, Freddie; brother-in-law Harvey Bell; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, Gordon Bell, her parents Ernest and Daisy Cass, her brother Joseph Cass and her son-in-law Lloyd Keates.
There will be a Celebration of Life for Ethel Bell at Three Valley Gap on May 12th, 2022 at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, Ethel had requested that donations be sent to the Revelstoke Hospital Auxiliary Society, P.O. Box 1781, Revelstoke, B.C. V0E 2S0.
Messages of sympathy may be sent to Ethel’s family by viewing her obituary at: www. brandonbowersfuneralhome.com
Cremation arrangements are in the care of Brandon Bowers Funeral Home, Revelstoke.
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