Obituary: Barbara “Bobbie” Fitzgerald Bell (1939-2023)

Barbara Fitzgerald “Bobbie” Bell was peacefully called home with her loving family by her side on Saturday, January 7, 2023.

Born in Newport, RI on December 7, 1939, to Evelyn F. and Edward W. Fitzgerald, the beloved Ma Bell called the Fifth Ward home for her lifetime.

She was a graduate of St. Catherine’s Academy and the Rhode Island School of Cosmetology. She was a hairdresser at Louie’s Salon on Bellevue Avenue, a special needs Teacher’s Assistant in the Newport School Department for many years, and a client caretaker at the Maher Center Group Home. She will be fondly remembered as the door greeter at O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home with her steadfast ability to make the darkest of days for families and visitors a little bit brighter.

She could often be found reigning over Hammond Street in her chair on the porch, (“Ma Bell’s Skybox”), with a friendly hello, wave, or conversation for anyone who would partake. She was a master storyteller and a quick-witted deliverer of a knockout punch line. Her Irish eyes were forever smiling with a sparkle that lit up every space she inhabited. She will forever be remembered as the reigning Queen of her cherished Gooseberry Beach, of which her parents were founding members. She was a star swimmer and diver in the ocean that she loved so well. Her lifetime legacy of love for Gooseberry was evident to all who saw her there seated in her deck chair with her vivacious greeting smile. She loved watching the generations of family and friends expand over the years. She especially loved watching all the babies and children, many of whom donned the beautiful shamrock sweaters she adoringly hand knit for them. She loved the Wednesday Night music Series with her front row seat for multiple performers who serenaded her with “Purple Rain”. The wine bell will never sound the same.

Ma Bell was greeted on her return home by her parents as well as her dear brother, Edward W. (Teddy) Fitzgerald, who predeceased her.

She was the amazing Mother to Arthur, Valerie and Lisa Bell with an unwavering love and devotion as deep as the ocean she adored.

In addition to her children, she leaves her treasured sisters Carol A. Barbato and Suzanne M. Sullivan. She also leaves the absolute loves of her life, her grandchildren, Noah W. Croy and his partner Sarah Betts, Kyle N. Bell, Adrienne L. Croy Nosach and her husband Nicholas, and Kelsey A. Bell Bannon and her husband Paul. She also leaves her beloved nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, and cousins by the dozens. She knew and loved each and every one. She adored her entire community, family, and friends so very dear, and will be profoundly missed by so very many.

Her family is so very grateful for the Newport Fire Department Rescue for the care she received. She laughed with them for the duration.

Calling hours will be held on Wednesday, January 11 from 4-7 pm in the O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring St, Newport. A Funeral service will be held on Thursday, January 12th at 10 am at Saint Augustin’s Church, corner of Carroll & Harrison Ave, Newport. All are welcome to attend. Burial will be private.

Donations in her memory can be made to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute or to the Newport Fire Department Rescue Fund, 21 W. Marlborough St, Newport RI 02840.

Slainte, Ma Bell. Thank you for everything.



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