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Beloved Bell


Glen W. Bell, Jr., founder of the Taco Bell restaurant chain, recently passed away in his home in Rancho Santa Fe. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Martha; three sisters; daughter, Kathleen; two sons, Gary and Rex; and four grandchildren. Bell is best known for founding Taco Bell, the world’s leading and most successful Mexican quick service restaurant chain that today serves more than 36.8 million consumers each week in more than 5,600 restaurants in the U.S. A World War II veteran, Bell served in the Marine Corps and his unit participated in battles at Guadalcanal and Guam as well as post-war service in China. After selling Taco Bell to PepsiCo in 1978, he made his full-time home in Rancho Santa Fe. It was about then that he became enthralled by Valley Center, a farming community that reminded him of the San Bernardino of his youth. An avid supporter of 4-H, Bell went on to found Bell Gardens, a 115-acre model produce farm and landscaped park that he opened to the public. Bell Gardens provided educational programs that stressed the importance of agriculture and how to preserve our natural resources. More than 60 crops were eventually grown there and it attracted 100,000 visitors a year, who picnicked and strolled through the beautiful rural landscape. In the farm’s heyday, Bell provided nearly $1 million a year to operate it. In 2001, a nonprofit foundation took over. In 2008, Nation’s Restaurant News named Bell as the recipient of its Pioneer Award, one of the most prestigious in the food industry.   JANE SHIOMI


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