Monday, December 19, 2011

Des Moines | Former circulation VP Bell has died

Rick Bell started his career carrying newspapers for The Olympian in Washington at the age of 10 and worked his way up to vice president over circulation at The Des Moines Register.

Bell, 49, died yesterday at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, the Register is now reporting; his obituary doesn't include a cause of death.

A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday at the First Assembly of God Church, 1700 W. Second Ave., Indianola, Iowa, according to the newspaper.

Related: read Overton Funeral Home's online memorial guest book.


  1. The linked in profile referenced here shows him still in the VP position. He's been gone quite some time. Makes me wonder if he was working ...

  2. Ricky was a good guy. Rest in peace my friend.

  3. Very sad to hear of this.

  4. He spent his entire career with Gannett, until leaving the Register last year.

  5. Very sad news! Rick was one of the hardest working people I have known in the business. He will be missed.

  6. Rick was a great teacher and mentor. He attacked circulation with intelligence and passion. Rick cared deeply for his department and the company. Rest in peace my friend!

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  9. He was a very dedicated, capable and good person.

    R.I.P Rick.

  10. I worked with Rick as a board member with CSCMA several years ago. This is a shock to several of our members. He will be missed by many. Does anyone know the cause of death?

  11. I worked under Rick when he was a mere Circulation Manager. I watched him grow into the positon of Circulation Director of The Olympian. I knew Rick well and my life is forever altered with his passing.

    "Thank you, Rick; I will forever cherish the memory of you. Mere words cannot express my grief. I know so many others who loved you, too. You are in a good place now, my 'forever friend'."

  12. Bell's last day at the Register was May 10, 2010. That day, Publisher Laura Hollingsworth wrote the following note to staff:

    Circulation Team:

    As you’re all aware, Rick Bell’s last day with The Des Moines Register is today.

    First, from my point of view, a couple of notes on Rick:

    Rick began his career with Gannett 31 years ago, in 1978, after delivering newspapers as a teen for The Olympian. He worked his way up over time and was promoted to circulation director there in November, 1994. Rick took the promotion leap and moved his family to be circulation director in Sioux Falls in 1988. After a couple of years in South Dakota, Rick was promoted to director at the Lansing State Journal in 2000 before his final promotion to Vice President in Des Moines in July, 2002.

    Through his Gannett career, Rick achieved a number of awards including ten Gannett President's Ring awards. Rick won NAA’s Sales Executive of the Year for metro newspapers in 2004, Circulation Executive of the Year in 2007 for CSCMA (Central States Circulation Managers Association), Gannett’s “Silver Excellence” Award in 2008, and just recently the highest honor from CSCMA, the President’s award. Rick is known best for turning around operational problems at newspapers and growing circulation volumes at each property he has worked at. Rick has worked hard with other newspapers, helping them solve problems and come up with new ideas to sell newspapers. We all know Rick as one of the most passionate people in the company in this way.

    I have had the personal opportunity of working with Rick at three different properties since 1994. We’ve worked together in Olympia, Lansing, and in Des Moines and I can attest first-hand to how hard he has worked, how successful he has been in all his efforts, and how big the results he has driven for the Gannett Company over this time. I join you in wishing Rick and his family all the very best in his next journey.

    I am very confident that the department and our results will continue to run smoothly during the brief interim period while this post is vacant, under your leadership. As I told you this morning, I will keep you well informed as to next steps and plans for Des Moines and the West Group and this role. I have tapped Kevin Johnson to act as interim executive oversight of the circulation department, so Kevin is available for anything you may need assistance with. Of course, I know that as a team you are equipped to handle most anything!

    I ask that you as managers take the lead in discussing Rick’s departure with your staff and ensure they feel informed and comfortable that a next steps process will be occurring shortly.

    Let me know if you have any questions or needs of me in the meantime. I appreciate everyone’s help.


  13. LH worked with Rick at 3 different sites - and yet, go to the guestbook for his obit. Nothing. I imagine from the lovely memo - that he got tossed out the door. I hope his suicide isn't somehow related to this career ending.

  14. Does anyone know why he left the newspaper? Seems very odd with all of his awards and recognition. Either way, very sad.


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