KINGSPORT - Officers with the Kingsport Police Department have established an account at a city bank to financially aid the family of a fellow officer who will be laid to rest Monday.
According to KPD Officer Darla Anderson, the Marvin Bell Jr. Fund was created at the First Kingsport Credit Union after several surrounding departments and officers within the force wanted to help Bell's family with the cost of his funeral.
Bell, 44, succumbed to natural causes at his home in Kingsport on April 22.
The Science Hill High School graduate and former East Tennessee State University football player joined the KPD in 1988, serving in a number of capacities during his tenure, including his last assignment as the department's information and intelligence officer whose duties included maintaining data for the city's sex offender registry.
Bell served on the force for 20 years, including the last six years despite being confined to a wheelchair after being partially paralyzed following a hunting accident in 2001.
"Here was a man that was paralyzed and could have given up or felt sorry for himself after something like that, but that just wasn't Marvin's way," said Anderson.
"I never saw him enter the police department door without hearing him singing. The man was always smiling and singing. He made everybody around him either feel better or smile.
"There were many times, like other officers here, that we had to lean on him for support, and he was always there to give it. He defined what a great policeman was because he truly loved to serve people."
Besides officers within the KPD wanting to offer funds for the account, Anderson said law enforcement brethren from the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have contacted the office to give their condolences and offer monetary contributions to the fund.
"Everything raised will go to the family," Anderson said.
Kingsport Police Chief Gale Osborne lauded Bell last week when faced with the task of announcing his death, calling the 44-year-old an ambassador for the department. He added that few knew the struggles Bell had to go through with his disabilities.
"Marvin would have to get up several hours before anyone else would, just to get ready for the day and come to work," Osborne said. "He was such an inspiration. There is so much love and respect from our people, and actually anybody that met him.
"People are in shock, and we've asked everyone to please pray for his family and everybody that loved him."
Bell's funeral is scheduled to take place Monday at the Carver Community Center located at 322 W. Watauga Ave. in Johnson City.
The official ceremony will begin at 1 p.m., although the family will greet friends and others beginning at 10 a.m.
Donations to assist Bell's family can be sent to: First Kingsport Credit Union; Marvin Bell Jr. Fund; 408 Clay St.; Kingsport, TN 37660.
Anyone with questions regarding the fund can call 229-9463.