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April 23- Tommy Bell Award Program

Posted on Apr 24, 2024

LEXINGTON, KY – The Rotary Club of Lexington held its weekly meeting on Thursday, Apr. 23, at The Mane on Main, Chase Bank building on Main St. The program was the Tommy Bell Award presentation.

This meeting will also be on Zoom. For the Zoom link please email, [email protected].

If you would like to have lunch, please contact [email protected] to reserve your meal.

Today’s program is a very special one, as Past President Bruce Bell presents the Tommy Bell Award in honor of his late father and Rotarian, Tommy Bell.  Many of us “of a certain age” knew Tommy Bell (Mr. Bell to your Editor when we first met in connection with the Eastern Little League) and it is no exaggeration to say he was and remains a legend.

Born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1922, Tommy graduated from Henry Clay High School in 1939 where he was all-state in football and track.  He then attended the University of Kentucky (UK), but he was called to serve the United States Air Force in World War II.  He graduated from  UK in 1948 and obtained his law degree there in 1950.

Tommy Bell was a lawyer, and he was a good one; so respected by his peers that he was chosen in 1966 as the Henry T. Duncan Memorial Outstanding Lawyer in Lexington.  He was one of the founding partners of the law firm now known as Fowler Bell.  He was general counsel for many significant Lexington businesses.

Mr. Bell is a member of the University of Kentucky Hall of Alumni, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame.  He also received the Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews.  He served on the UK Board of Trustees and the UK Athletic Association Board and was a member of the UK Development Council and chairman of its Fellows program.  He was state chairman of the Character and Fitness Committee for the Kentucky Bar Association, past president of the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce, and state chairman of the Easter Seals.  He served on numerous boards of directors, including the Rotary Club of Lexington.

His hobby  was sports officiating, which he did at both the collegiate and professional levels.  Some people are probably not aware of his refereeing two NCAA championship basketball finals in 1956 and 1959, before joining the National Football League, where he officiated eight championship games and two Super Bowls, Super Bowl III and Super Bowl VII.

Finally, Mr. Bell was in heavy demand as a public speaker, having spoken in many countries and most of the United States.  Tommy Bell believed in God, the church, family, education, marriage, honesty, respect for the law and order, authority, America, and hard work.  By any measuring device, Tommy Bell was a success and the embodiment of Service Above Self.

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