Former teacher campaigns for senior citizens
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Nov 19, 2013 | 741 views |  0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For 36 years of her life, Judy West Bell was an advocate for children. While she will continue to work for children, this grandmother of three has added another group to her list -- senior citizens.

Judy was born in the small Dallas County town of Safford, about 23 miles from Selma. She graduated from A. G. Parrish High School, now Selma High, in 1963.

The youngest of 12 children in her family, she received a lot of attention from her older siblings. Her father called her the caboose.

“I was spoiled rotten,” she said. “I had sisters that were old enough to be my mother, so I think I was their baby doll.”

Judy met her husband of 46 years, Dick, at Jacksonville State University. There were taking biology 101 together. She and Dick were in the parking lot on their way to class on Nov. 22, 1963 when they learned President Kennedy had been killed.

“The commuters in the parking lot had their radios on, and everybody was stopping to hear about what had happened,” said Judy. “When we got to our biology class, Dr. Staples was so upset, he dismissed class. Everyone was crying. The next day we had a memorial service on the quad.”

Judy remembers that back in the ‘60s, boys and girls were separated on campus.

“You had the girls on one side of the campus, and the boys on the other side,” she said. “They tried to keep us apart. I was in Daugette, and Dick was in Glazner.”

Judy and Dick graduated, married and moved away. They came back in 1973 when Judy was hired to teach at Kitty Stone Elementary School.

She started out teaching science. She later taught math, Title I math and math enrichment. She was a counselor the last 10 years she taught.

“I really felt like I was helping kids,” she said. “I love kids. That’s why I became a teacher. Being the youngest of 12 children, I felt like I had a classroom at home. My older sisters taught me how to read when I was 4 or 5. I have 45 nieces and nephews. Many of them are my age. So, I’ve always been around children.”

Since Judy retired in 2008, she focuses on enhancing the lives of senior citizens and providing quality education for school children through her membership in the county, state and national associations for retired teachers. She’s currently running for a retired position on the state’s Teacher Retirement System Board. Results probably won’t be known until February.

“Because I’m just a strong believer in public education, I think every child has the right to have the best education they can,” she said. “I’m a teacher and an advocate, and I want the best education for all children. If people have money and they can afford to send their children to private schools, I think that’s great and wonderful, but not every parent can. Every child deserves a great education. I think we have better education and more intelligent citizens through public education.”

Judy is on the board of directors of the Alabama Association of Retired Teachers and is an Alabama Silver Haired Legislator representing District 4, which is Calhoun County.

As an Alabama Silver Haired Legislator, she recently attended a three-day legislative session.

“We’re non-partisan there,” she said. “It’s not supposed to be political. We advocate for senior citizens who are 62 and older. We go into senior centers and find out what seniors in our area want. Then, we go to Montgomery and pass resolutions that will help them. We present the top five things seniors want to the legislature.”

One of Judy’s concerns is senior abuse. Her brother was an Alzheimer’s patient at a nursing home in Texas a few years ago. That’s when she came to realize that those working in nursing homes and assisted living homes need to have special training to work with these patients.

“I saw then that Alzheimer’s patients need different treatment,” she said. “This is one of our top five resolutions. Hopefully, sometime in the future, it will be passed.”

Two other resolutions Judy helped bring to the public’s attention as an Alabama Silver Haired Legislator are property taxes and tax on food for the elderly.

“When you become 70, you’re going to pretty much stay in your house until you have to go to a nursing home,” she said. “Putting a freeze on property taxes for seniors is one resolution we were able to get passed. Right now, we’re working on trying to get a tax-free day once a week on groceries for them. Sometimes it takes two or three years to get something passed. But, I get all excited about these things.”

The Bells are members of First Christian Church in Anniston where Judy is an elder and Sunday school teacher. Their daughter, Susan Frintner, lives in Jacksonville. They have three granddaughters. Tristan Dubose and Kayli Hollingsworth attend JSU. Lacy Frintner is a junior at Pleasant Valley High. Their great-grandchildren are Parker, 3, and Paeton, 6 months.

Dick is retired from the physical education department at JSU.

An avid reader, Judy said she loves the Jacksonville public library. Her schedule though, allows her little time to read.

“I’m always picking up grandkids and often babysitting,,” she said. “I’m happy if I can get in a little reading every day.”

At the moment, her favorite authors are Nora Roberts and Sandra Brown.

Judy said that while she likes to cook, because their lives are so busy, she and Dick usually eat out. She shares her family recipes, one of which is a hobo dinner.

“While this is cooking, you can do other things,” she said. “It’s ready in an hour.”

Contact Margaret at


Hobo Dinner

4 hamburger patties (1-2 per person)
3-4 potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 slices of onion
Salt and pepper

Place hamburger patties in single layer in foil lined baking dish. Top with salt, pepper, ketchup, onions and potato slices. Close foil tightly  and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour or until done.

Baked Beans

1 can Bushes original beans
2 T. mustard
Dash Worcestershire sauce
¼ c. ketchup
1/3 c brown sugar
1 lb. cooked ground beef (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray dish. Combine all ingredients. Bake 35-45 minutes. 

Carrot Jello Salad

1 lg. pkg. orange jello
2-3 grated carrots
¾ c. chopped pecans
1 c. crushed pineapple (drain juice)

Mix Jello by package directions. Stir in carrots, pecans and pineapple after the mixture has chilled for 30 minutes. Continue to chill two hours or until firm.

Banana Pudding

2 boxes vanilla pudding
1 med. Cool Whip
3-4 bananas (sliced)
1 box vanilla wafers (Nabisco)

Mix pudding by box directions. Layer wafers and bananas. Cover with pudding. Top with Cool Whip.
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Former teacher campaigns for senior citizens by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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