Martha Leola Bell, age 86, of Delano and Montrose, died Sunday, Aug. 9, 2009, at her home in Delano.
Martha was born July 2, 1923. Her passion was horses. Her grandfather was the caretaker of a horse farm, and as a child, she’d sit and watch the little girl who owned it ride her show horses . . . and dream of having some of her own someday.
During WWII Martha was an often promoted instructor in a munitions manufacturing plant.
She met her husband, Bill, while working at the Elm’s Hotel, a national resort/spa in Excelsior Springs, after being told by a gypsy fortune teller she would meet a handsome blond man and marry him! They loved to dance; “Tea for Two” was their song. Martha and Bill celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary during the Scottsdale horse show this year.
Martha and Bill ran The Walleye Resort in Osakis during the 1950s. They moved to Golden Valley in 1959, where Bill was the general manager of the Golden Valley Golf Club.
Martha was active in the Red Stocking Follies productions for North Memorial Hospital, volunteered at Methodist Hospital, and was involved in Eastern Star.
She and Bill did much traveling for the NorthStar Hotel’s awarding-winning Rosewood Room restaurant, while Bill was managing that property and the Marquette Hotel.
Bill and Martha bought their first horse in 1964, a grade mare with a one-half Arab filly at side. That began Martha’s love of Arabians. They bought a farm, in 1969, and named it MerriHill Arabians. Over the years MerriHill Arabians has raised many local, regional, and national level winners.
Bill and Martha were founding members of MN Arabian Horse Breeders; also members of the MN Arabian Horse Assn.
Martha’s greatest interest and joy was in the creating process of selecting the breeding to create the perfect horse. She understood the value of connecting people with the right horses. She loved to help educate folks on horses and how to do things for themselves with their horses.
Martha’s other passion was to help young people. She regularly hired 14- and 15-year-olds to work in the barn. She expected a lot out them, but taught them to expect a lot out of themselves, as well. She taught them the value of hard work, but mixed in enough play to make it fun.
Martha enjoyed an unusually close mother-daughter relationship with her daughter, Becky, and they spent a lot of time together. Her granddaughter, Maia, was truly her pride and joy.
Martha and Bill fell in love with Arizona winters and bought a wonderful house on a lovely man-made lake. Martha enjoyed her pet dogs, and playing bridge; and she loved Eskimo Pies. She had a passion for the news, and often said she’d have been a politician or reporter if times had been different.
Martha’s joy, grace, elegance, and humor will be with her family and all the lives that she touched throughout the years.
Funeral services took place Friday, Aug. 14, at the Plymouth Creek Christian Church in Plymouth. Pastor Shane Isner officiated, with interment in the Bethlehem Lutheran Cemetery in Askov, MN.
Arrangements were by the Iten Funeral Home in Delano.