It is with great sadness to report that Tennessee construction icon, C. Ray Bell, passed away over the weekend due to heart complications.
I had the privilege of working with Ray Bell Construction Co. during the time when the company was transitioning leadership from Ray to his two sons and top executives to form Bell & Associates Construction. He leaves behind a great legacy:
- He helped build the skyline of Nashville. In 1970, Ray formed Ray Bell Construction Co. and within 10 years was awarded the James K. Polk State Office Building project and built the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. By the 1990s, RBCC formed a transportation division to build highway projects. In 1994, RBCC built the BellSouth tower, a.k.a., the Batman building. In 2003, RBCC completed renovation of Shelby Avenue pedestrian bridge.
- His imprint on Nashville will remain strong. In 2010, Bell & Associates began working on construction of the $585 million Music City Center convention complex. Just as much of the other great projects in this city, the Music City Center will transform Nashville’s economy for years. Ray has been called "hard working, compassionate and politically connected" and a "vital asset" to the industry.
- He was a loyal friend to all. I talked with Ray on few occasions, but his great passion and loyalty emanated from everything he did. Many others in the community have great memories of Ray Bell, but the words of his son, Darek, have the most impact on me as a father of six young children:
"My father was my hero, my mentor, and most importantly, my best friend. . . . Relationships were very important to him, and he was a master at cultivating deep and lasting friendships. He was a rock for many people. Fathers and sons don’t always have the best communication, yet we used to talk for hours like old friends. Because, quite simply, we were."
To Darek and Brad, and the rest of the family, my deepest condolences. Hold tight to memories of a great man for your continued comfort.