Ralph K. Bell
Ralph K. Bell, 99 of Clarksville,
died Tuesday, May 20, 2014 in his home. He was born January 27,
1915 at home on the Bell Family Farm, Clarksville, Greene
County, PA, a son of the late Harold Kennedy Bell and Harriett
Gaddis Luse. Mr. Bell was a 1938 graduate of Penn State
Mr. Bell was a member of the Jefferson Presbyterian Church, Sons
of the American Revolution (SAR), Fort Jackson Chapter, Greene
County Soil Conservation; Eastern Bird Banding Association;
Brooks Bird Club; Izaak Walton League; Three Rivers Birding
Club; PA Society for Ornithology; Purple Martin Conservation
Society and many other organizations.
He founded the Allegheny Front Migration Observatory (AFMO),
September 18, 1958. AFMO is the oldest, continuous running bird
banding station in North America. In 2002, on site at AFMO,
Dolly Sods, WV, the West Virginia Public Broadcasting System,
filmed a documentary of Mr. Bell regarding his founding of AFMO.
Mr. Bell began studying birds around the age of 12, and kept
records from that time on. He obtained his Bird Banding Mater
Permit in 1954. Over the years he had 15 sub permitees, whom he
mentored for their Bird Banding Permit. As of May 2013, Mr. Bell
had banded 142,255 birds, and had 1,481 recoveries.
Mr. Bell was given the PA Game Commission Certificate of
Appreciation in 2006, in recognition of over 50 years of
unparalleled service. "Your exemplary achievement in bird
banding, bird research and providing homes for wildlife is truly
inspirational to everyone who has a love and appreciation for
the natural world".
Mr. Bell was given the John and Norah Lane Award for
"Outstanding Contribution to Bluebird Conservation by an
Individual", from the North American Bluebird Society, in 1983
(at that time Bell had over 250 bluebird nest boxes in Greene
County that he monitored, kept records, and banding the
nestlings and some adults.
Mr. Bell was awarded the US Department of Forest Service 2003
Volunteer Award of the Year for 46 years of outstanding
dedication and service; the PA Society for Ornithology Earl
Poole Award in 1998; the 2006 Purple Martin Preservation
Alliance Award "For a Lifetime of Dedication to Purple Martin
Conservation in Western PA; he was PA Envirothon Leader for many
years; Ornithological leader for 46 years at the West Virginia
Wildflower Pilgrimage, Blackwater Falls, WV; the Founder and
leader of the Jefferson Audubon Christmas Bird Count,
Clarksville, PA, December, 1958 for 50+ years; and contributed
research to the 1st and 2nd ATLAS OF BREEDING BIRDS IN PA.
He lectured over 65 years on birds and nature to school
children, civic groups, bird clubs, Boy Scouts, and many other
organizations. He was interviewed on the radio in Pittsburgh, PA
and elsewhere, as an expert on the subject of birds and nature.
Ralph published over 200 articles on birds and nature. From 1956
to 1975 he published articles in EBBA News for the Eastern Bird
Banding Association, including the years 1964 to 1973, when he
wrote a column titled "A Bird Bander's Diary". He published
articles in THE REDSTART and THE MAILBAG for the Brooks Bird
Club for many years. He wrote a column titled "Bluebirds" for
the Nature Society News, Griggsville, IL, and published articles
in many other publications.