By R. Alan Richardson
Mark Argo coined the ‘Hometown Legend’ phrase on baseball’s senior night when Davis Bell was honored by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Well, that’s not exactly how it went down. Bell was an outstanding catcher at Morgan County from 1979-1982 so he CAUGHT the first pitch from his two sons, Brett and Bob, using his main tool of the trade, his catcher’s mitt. It didn’t matter that he joked about how hard it was for him to come out of his crouch. It didn’t matter to the fans and family that were in attendance. Bell received a standing ovation on his retirement of 30 years, but also on his contributions as a player, coach, teacher, and administrator that made his 42 total years so special.
Those 30 years in education were all spent at his alma mater in Madison. During that time he has touched thousands of children’s and parents’ lives. He’s got the “Hometown boy does good” label written all over him and his fingerprints are on many parts of the educational system in our county.
Bell was named to the Morgan’s Finest list a year ago for his impacts on the field of play. He was an outstanding quarterback, running back, and wide receiver for Wayne Bradshaw, and one of the best catcher’s in Morgan County baseball history under Randy Miley and Steve Cisson. His speed, bat, arm, and defense were paired with a determination coming close to hatred of the word ‘losing’. He made that list based on his athleticism and impact on the sports he played. He also made that list due to his influence on kids coming out of the Morgan County School System.
He said, “There are a lot of people I’m grateful and thankful to for giving me the opportunities I’ve had along the way. Mark Wilson saw fit to put me in charge of the Career Tech and Ag program as the Educational Director and as the Freshman Academy Administrator. All of the administrators I’ve worked with and the administrative teams have been wonderful. We are in good hands with Dr. Miki Edwards at the helm and I’m excited about the college and career initiatives she’s putting into place. Dr. Jim Malanowski, Dr. Pat Stokes, Dr. Stan Dejarnett, Dr. Bennett, and Dr. Woodard are all great leaders that I’ve enjoyed working with. I’ve had a great group of teachers to lead at both the Freshman Academy and at MCHS. This is an outstanding faculty that we have right now. I’m fortunate in the fact that there have been some superior students that I had an opportunity to impact as well.”
Bell talked about his plans after retirement. “I’m excited about retiring and looking forward to closing this chapter and opening a new one. I have been and will continue to work as the site director for Foothills Morgan Charter High School housed at Morgan County Middle School. I’ll be working Monday and Wednesday evenings year-round with a great staff there. No doubt this will give me more time to travel and work on my golf game.” His close partner in crime, Ricky Cochran, joked, “He and I both need a lot of work on the golf course. Seriously, Coach Bell has made a great impact on our community for a long time.”
Bell continued, “My other goal is to find ways of giving back to the community. I want to stay active in that regard as I look for opportunities in that arena.” He quickly added, “None of this would have been possible without the support of my family, Sandi (his wife), Brett, and Bob (sons). It’s been a great ride and I’ve been blessed beyond measure to have always been a part of the One Morgan Bulldog experience.”
Some of the folks that know Bell the best chimed in on his retirement.
Dr. Jim Malanowski said, “When I think of Davis Bell, the word that comes to mind is ‘solid’. The strength of his character is unquestionable. His word means something. He single-handedly built a team in the Freshman Academy that was admired and respected around the state. His legacy will live on at MCHS long after he retires.”
Coach Alvin Richardson added, “The things that made Coach Bell such a good assistant were that he was totally loyal to all our coaches and players, he had a genuine passion for the game of football, he was fiercely competitive and worked exceptionally hard at practice and in preparation for games. I don’t know of any high school coach in Georgia who wouldn’t be proud to have had him working in their program.”
Dr. Stan Dejarnett: “Davis Bell is and always has been the kind of educator any parent would want their child to have. He’s had an impact on literally thousands of Morgan County’s children. If there is ever a Morgan County Teachers Hall of Fame, Davis and his wife, Sandi, should be in it.”
The real boss, his wife Sandi, was a little emotional when she told us, “Davis and I are so grateful to be retirees of this wonderful school system where we each have spent 42 years of our lives learning and teaching in Morgan County. MCHS particularly holds a special place in my heart having married my high school sweetheart never dreaming one day he would be my administrator and boss. Our motto for years was ‘he’s the boss at school, but I’m the boss thereafter.’ I am excited to begin a new lifestyle and anxiously awaiting a new motto come June 30th. I am very proud of Davis as I have seen firsthand how hard he works in all that he does for the administrators, teachers, staff, and students. He supports them all unconditionally and is an awesome motivator who often works behind the scenes. His deep care and concern for each and every student has always been his top priority, and yes, our community has been blessed for his dedication to these young men and women over the past 30 years.
On a more personal note, I fell in love with Davis because he made me feel special, I had no doubt I was his number one. Well, after all these years it remains true, but I also know why so many love Davis (Coach Bell). He treats everyone special and he makes everyone feel like they are number one. I can’t think of a better profession to have impacted with such attributes.”