“So Long To All My Friends In Tupelo, Mississippi” – RIP Captain Larry Bell

The Late Captain Larry Bell in a screenshot from a TV news story I was covering in the late 1990s back in NW Tennessee. This was a marijuana eradication he was involved in. My friend from law enforcement and TV news days died Thursday – August 11, 2022 with one of his closest friends at his side.

Dyer County, Tennessee

Larry Bell and I shared an office together in the 1980’s when I was still in law enforcement. We both had moved into administrative jobs, more or less, at that point and it became necessary to have an office together. I sort of knew Larry before. My mother and his wife Linda were coworkers for years. I must admit I wasn’t keen on sharing an office with him. But, by the time I left law enforcement in 1990 we had become such pals from our years in that office discussing everything you could think of.

 

Captain Larry Bell with the Dyer County, TN Sheriff’s Department mapping out search areas for a missing person in Tigrett, TN. The was in the late 1990s.

Fast forward to my post law enforcement career in TV news covering several states in the mid-south, I continued to run into Larry in a different capacity. But we still got along just like those days back in those small basement office of the Dyersburg Police Department.

Above, Captain Larry Bell clowning around with me just after they had stopped someone in a police pursuit. Larry knew how to be a very serious lawman, but also knew how to keep it light and all of us laughing. 

Years later when I was covering news Larry would always turn to the camera at some point when he could and say, “I’d like to say hi to all my friends in Tupelo, Mississippi.” It cracked me up every time and it became our laughing joke for may more years to come. It stuck.

Larry eventually retired when the sheriff he worked for became the US Marshal for the Memphis district. He and his wife Linda continued to enjoy life, ride horses and do the retirement thing. I’d occasionally get the opportunity to see Larry when I back in Tennessee after my move to Virginia, but it was a rare opportunity.

Larry wore many hats in his law enforcement career. After serving in the military he was a Tennessee State Trooper, eventually a Field Training Sergeant for the Dyersburg Police Department and then Captain (Chief Deputy) for the Dyer County Sheriff’s Department until he retired.

I knew Larry’s health was failing over the past year. Our mutual friend, Joe Markham who was much closer to Larry and his wife Linda, would keep me updated whenever he would go back to visit from his home back in Florida. Joe notified me on Thursday Larry took his last breath with him at his side in a Jackson, Tennessee hospital. Joe and Larry’s sister-in-law were able to get Larry’s wife to the hospital to see him just an hour or so before he passed.

Larry is literally a dying breed.  A true lawman. A true friend though thick and thin. One of the good ones. A good one I will reflect on fondly and smile. Often. Fly high Larry and RIP my friend.

Larry’s funeral and memorial arrangements are being handled by the Johnson-Willams funeral home in Newbern, Tennessee. You can click here for more info as it become updated. 

 

Captain Larry Bell with the Dyer County, TN Sheriff’s Department making our search areas for a missing person in Tigrett, TN. The was in the late 1990s.

About tommystafford

Recovering from life as TV news reporter. Airplane & helicopter pilot. Weather guesser. Farmer. Trail runner, dad & husband living in the beautiful Central Virginia Blue Ridge mountains!
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1 Response to “So Long To All My Friends In Tupelo, Mississippi” – RIP Captain Larry Bell

  1. Debora Bates says:

    He was a wonderful boss when I worked under him as a dispatcher… RIP!

    Like

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