Charles Bell, 1916-2010: Scholar known for shows on 'symbolic history'

Tom Sharpe
The New Mexican

A memorial for Charles Greenleaf Bell is set for this afternoon in the same room at St. John's College where the retired tutor lectured on "symbolic history."

Bell, who lived in Santa Fe from 1967 to 2006, died Dec. 25 at his youngest daughter's home in Maine at age 94.

Born Oct. 31, 1916, Bell grew up in Greenville, Miss., where he studied the skies with his telescope. He earned a physics degree from the University of Virginia in 1936, then went to Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar and turned to the study of literature.

He taught at Iowa State, Princeton (where he knew Albert Einstein), the University of Chicago, St. John's College in Annapolis, Md., and, beginning in 1967, at St. John's in Santa Fe.

He also published three volumes of poetry (Songs for a New America, Delta Return and Five Chambered Heart), two novels (The Married Land and The Half Gods) and an autobiography (Millennial Harvest).

In Santa Fe, Bell, his wife, Diana, their two daughters and three others from Charles' previous marriage lived on Upper Canyon Road. Diana, known as Danny, taught elementary school and wrote children's books. In 1996, both Danny and Charles were named Santa Fe Living Treasures.

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