Max Sibbald Bell, Jr.
September 28, 1929 - December 6, 2017
Max Sibbald Bell, Jr., age 88, of Wilmington, DE, passed away on Wednesday, December 6, 2017.
A native Delawarean, Max was born in Wilmington on September 28, 1929, and was the son of the late Max Sibbald and Claire (Jackson) Bell, Sr. He was a graduate of P.S. DuPont High School in Wilmington, Bates College in Maine and Harvard Law School. Max made his career as a lawyer in the general practice of law with Richards, Layton and Finger in Wilmington, retiring after 40 years.
Active in his community, Max previously served as President of the Delaware affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union; represented Delaware on the A.C.L.U. National Board; Delaware Blue Cross Blue Shield Board of Directors for 30 years; Board of CareFirst, Inc.; chairman of the Delaware State Human Relations Commission; a 20 year Board member for Family Services of Delaware; and served on the Board of Sojourners’ Place, as well as the West Center City Adult Center. Strong in his faith, Max served on the vestry of the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew, as well as held many positions on the local, state and national levels of the Episcopal Church.
In addition to his parents, Max is preceded in death by his son, Scott Bell and sister, Barbara (Bell) Matuszewski. He is survived by his sons, Curtis Bell and Dwight Bell and grandchildren, Sarah Bell, Max Bell III, and Michael Bell.
A memorial service will be held at 11am on Wednesday morning, December 20, 2017, at the Episcopal Church of Ss. Andrew and Matthew, 719 N. Shipley Street, Wilmington. Interment will be held privately.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Episcopal Church of Ss. Andrew and Matthew, at the address listed above.
7 Condolences for Max Sibbald Bell, Jr.
Our dear Max…a tremendous presence in our lives. What he showed us and gave us cannot be measured. He will always be loved dearly and missed so very much.
I have been trying to get in touch with Max for the last few years. We were close friends in high school and I lost track of him for many years. We were always pleased to meet again at class reunions with our many classmates. In later years, I always called Max after I returned from foreign trips and he would enjoy hearing of my experiences even though he could no longer travel. I hope Max knows I was thinking of him.
Max was a dedicated, thoughtful, and caring Christian. It was a privilege to know him and work with him.
Judie and I are deeply saddened to read of Max’s passing. Although Max and I were often on opposite sides of highly-contested litigation, I had nothing but unbounded admiration for his professionalism, integrity and affability.
I remember particularly the election of 1968 when Max and I were assigned to the Superior Court in Wilmington by our respective political parties to represent the interests of our party’s adherents whose right to vote had been denied at their polling place.
We had a steady stream of business that day because, wholly unknown to Max, Republican Party officials had a few weeks earlier sent registered letters (return receipt requested) to registered Democratic voters in Wilmington’s black neighborhoods and then taken unclaimed envelopes to the Election Office as proof that the addressees no longer lived at there and caused the names to be stricken. The first prospective voters knew of it was their rejection at the polling place. ( Incidentally, I learned that day that it was an aphorism in Wilmington’s poorer black neighborhoods that good news never came in a registered envelope)
Max and I took the first couple of cases before Judge Andy Christie, who after hearing under-oath testimony that the denied voter did live at the stated address, quickly ordered voting rights restored. He then announced that he had better things to do than to waste time on such proceedings and that Max and I should come back to court only when we honestly disagreed on a case.
The upshot was that we did not again appear before Judge Christie and a piece of paper saying “OK to vote” stipulated to and signed by Max and me became the ticket to vote for dozens of Delawareans that day.
I have often in years past told this story to friends, particularly from my native New York, to illustrate one reason for our delight in having relocated to Delaware. But upon reading of Max’s passing today, I realized it implicitly reflected upon his sense of decency and fairness and felt it should be shared with his family.
Again our sincerest condolences and regret that, being presently in Florida, we will be unable to attend his memorial service. Dave Drexler
I am truly heartbroken to hear of Max’s passing. I worked with him for 25 years. His life was truly dedicated to helping others. His law career was never about wealth or position…it was about adoptions, civil rights, and making his community a better place Besides my parents there was no one in my life I respected and admired more. He has earned his place in Heaven. God bless you Max. I will miss you and your kindness. Terry ❤
Sr. Jeanne Cashman, OSU
A great light of truth, justice and compassion for all humanity has left this earth with the death of Max Bell. As his obituary notes, Max was a man of many passions who freely gave of his time, talent and financial resources to support them. I would like to point out that Max not only “served on the Board of Sojourners’ Place,” but was actually a founding director and enthusiastic participant in the development of Sojourners’ Place. His wisdom and perspective empowered Sojourners’ Place to minister to this day, more than 25 years after foundation, continuing to turn around the lives of homeless women and men throughout the state. I am grateful to him for all the goodness he shared with me and with so very many others, and so very glad our paths in life have crossed. Sr. Jeanne F. Cashman, OSU
As an employee of RL&F during the 90’s, I was always struck by the difference between the gentle Max Bell and the other corporate attorneys. Mr. Bell may not have been the cut-throat money maker so many of his co-directors were, but he upheld the tenets of integrity, charity and caring that might have been missing without his presence. After nine years at the firm, I saw the deep respect that everyone there had for Mr. Bell. Rest in peace, Mr. Bell. You have earned many jewels in your crown.