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Alum includes a gift in his will to support fellow Texans
Posted July 6, 2015
Leo Bell, pictured with his wife, Elaine, decided on a gift through his estate to support scholarships for students from his home state. IMAGE: Brandon Thibodeaux Leo Bell, pictured with his wife, Elaine, decided on a gift through his estate to support scholarships for students from his home state. IMAGE: Brandon Thibodeaux

For as long as he can remember, Leo Bell, A&S '71, was determined to become an officer in the U.S. Army. It was an ambitious goal for an African-American boy growing up in a rural, racially segregated town in Texas. But Bell equated the Army with seeing the world and advancing as far as his personality, skill, and tenacity could take him.

Bell was accepted by Johns Hopkins on an ROTC scholarship and partial support from the university. One of few African-Americans and Texans in the Class of 1971, he sees his experience at Johns Hopkins as life-changing—and the reason he included a significant gift in his will to establish a scholarship fund for future students. "It was Johns Hopkins that prepared me to do the things that I consider successful," he says. "I always wanted to be an Army officer, but I think I was a better and more effective Army officer because of my experiences at Johns Hopkins."

The day before he graduated, Bell was commissioned in Shaffer Hall as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Field Artillery. He served in the Army for more than 20 years, retiring in 1993 as a lieutenant colonel with many military honors, including the Legion of Merit Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, and two Meritorious Service Medals. He stayed connected with Johns Hopkins, giving regularly, becoming a member of the Alumni Association's Cerulean Society (recognizing those who give $1,000 or more to the Alumni Association's endowment), and volunteering to interview prospective Johns Hopkins students from the Dallas area, where he lives with his wife, Elaine. When he wanted to contribute in a more meaningful way, he decided on a gift through his estate. His gift will establish an endowed scholarship fund for Krieger School students from Bell's home state.

For Bell, it is important to ensure that future generations of Johns Hopkins students benefit from their university experience as much as he did. "I hope that some Texans, who may know very little about what's going on anyplace other than the community they are from, will have the opportunity to see that there is a wider world out there," he says. "And there are opportunities at Hopkins for them to learn, grow, prosper, and achieve."