OAK RIDGE (WATE) – He represents Oak Ridge’s District 7 on the Anderson County School Board, but Don Bell goes above and beyond his calling to help improve the education of our children.
His friends and colleagues, including current and former school administrators, came out to give him handshakes and hugs for receiving the WATE 6 On Your Side Hero Award.
It was an emotional moment for one friend in particular: Paige Martin, daughter of longtime former Anderson County School Board member and community leader Gail Martin, who passed away just a week and a half ago at the age of 75.
Bell actually saved Gail Martin’s life earlier in the summer, something Paige Martin will always be grateful for.
“She was eating a piece of steak,” Paige Martin remembered. “She choked on it. Thankfully, Don was able to do the Heimlich maneuver on her, that he knew what to do and gave her a few more months with us.”
Bell credits his Red Cross CPR training with knowing what to do that night in July to save his longtime friend.
“You must do it,” Bell said. “It’s something you do, and I was glad I was able to perform that. And I think it’s so important to have that training.”
Dr. Tim Parrott, director of Anderson County Schools, also has fond memories of Gail Martin. “The lady he saved – she was a great supporter of the school system. She was my Sunday School teacher when I was in third grade,” he said.
David Farmer with WYSH radio said, “Don is one of the most public spirited people that I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve known Don a long time.”
“When you get to know Don Bell, he is such a genuine person. His character will reveal gentleness and love. He’s just a very compassionate person,” former Director of Schools in Anderson County, Larry Foster, said.
Bell and Gail Martin worked together on the Ciderville show on BBB Communications’ local Channel 12. They had a lot of fun, but both also believed in the importance of education for our children.
“I’m very sad that she’s gone on. I’ll miss her, but I’ll treasure those times we had together and I’ll keep that in my mind forever,” said Bell.
So, as a tribute to Gail Martin, and the man who stepped in and made a difference, we are honored to present that man, Don Bell, with our WATE 6 On Your Side Hero Award.