Mrs. Selena Anita Williams Bell was born on December 1, 1928 in Caldwell County, Tilmon Community, Luling, Texas. She was the seventh child and the second daughter born to Gillis Williams and Katherine Ellison Williams.
Lovingly known as “Baby Sister,” she and her siblings were raised on land acquired by her astute Maternal Grandfather, Gum Ellison, who became a free slave at the age of eleven. This land became a large traditional farm owned by her parents. This homestead provided all of their essential needs which they also shared with many in the community. The depression era never affected them because they lived off of the land. She and her siblings worked hard on the farm and enjoyed a lot of love and fun in the process. Their family unit also included close relationships with aunts, uncles and cousins. Church involvement was required. It served as a spiritual gathering place for her family, as well as, their community.
At the age of fifteen years old, Selena moved to San Antonio to live with her older brother, Albert and wife, Olivia. She attended Douglass Jr. High School. When her mother became ill, she returned to the Tilmon Community to care for her. Selena completed high school in 1947, Lockhart, Texas. After graduation, Selena returned to San Antonio where she worked at the Day and Night Drive Inn to earn money to attend Tillotson College in Austin, Texas, where she majored in Home Economics. Because of financial challenges, Selena had to temporarily pause her educational goals after one year at Tillotson College.
On August 19, 1950, Selena married Frank Bell, Jr. She became a homemaker extraordinaire and the mother of four children; Larry Edwin Bell (Margie), who preceded her in death, Janet Bell Odom (Elzie, Jr.), Angela Elois Bell, and Kathy Bell-Luster (Randy). She continued to pursue her goal of completing her college education by taking classes at St. Philips Junior College. In May 1971, Selena earned the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Incarnate Word College. Selena was an Elementary Teacher for fourteen years in the San Antonio and Wharton Independent School Districts. Education was pivotal for Selena. She absolutely required her children to matriculate and complete their college education. She also encouraged her nieces and nephews to do the same. Her grandchildren were recipients of her education legacy. They have all earned Bachelor Degrees and some, Master Degrees.
Selena became a member of Jacob’s Chapel United Methodist Church in 1949. She humbly served in many capacities. Selena was a member of the choir, Usher Board, Administrative Council, United Methodist Women, Evangelism, Courtesy, and Nominating Committees. She also served as Chairman of the Scholarship, Health and Welfare Mission, and the Staff Pastor Parish Relations Committees.
Selena held memberships in the Retired Teachers Association, National Postal Workers Women Auxiliary, Coliseum Willow Park Neighborhood Organization, and a charter member of the Elan Social Club. She was a very proud member of Alpha Pi Zeta Chapter, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.
Selena and Frank, who preceded her in death, January 2018, were married for 67 years. They are the grandparents of six awesome grandchildren, Asheley Odom Brown (Jeffery), Victoria Odom Sanders (Wilkie), Christopher Adam Bell, Elzie Delano Odom, III, Jennifer Camille Luster, and Malcolm Lamar Luster, along with three great grandchildren, Devin Bryce Brown, Carter Blake Brown, Roman Franklin Sanders, and baby boy, Gabriel Sanders, who will enter into this family of love, June 2020.
Selena was the Matriarch, a pillar of strength for her family. She was feisty, fun, very loving and caring. Selena was serious and genuine about living a blueprint for her children to revere, emulate, and never depart from it. She was not a quitter. She approached every task to completion. Selena lived her life so that everyone knew she was a Christian. She unselfishly gave herself to everyone. Selena often said she could not have achieved her goals without her faith and belief in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She openly and publicly gave the Lord all the praise and glory for her life and all of her accomplishments.
Selena leaves to cherish her memories her sister, Almeda Devaughn, sister-in-law, Lou Ella Williams, brother-in-law, James Bell and numerous nieces, nephews, friends, and church members.
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