On December 16, 2015, long-time resident of Nepean and Ottawa, Dr. Ruth Bell (Cooper Rolph), C.M., B.A., M.A., LL.D. DSL (Hon. Causa) passed away peacefully at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. She was predeceased by her beloved husbands, William Kirby Rolph, Ph.D. (deceased 1953), and the Hon. Richard Albert Bell, P.C., Q.C., LSM, B.A., LL.B. (deceased 2000).
In 1962, Dr. Bell joined the Renison community as the then brand new college’s first Dean of Students. The Trinity College graduate was also a lecturer in Political Science at the University of Waterloo. As a former Sunday school superintendent at St. Paul’s Bloor Street in Toronto, she had known Archbishop Renison when he had been rector there. Dr. Bell was given a small apartment in the College, and it was her responsibility to act as a resource to the students and to enforce the College residence rules.
Dr. Bell devoted her life to changing attitudes and behaviours towards women, protecting the rights of children, and creating more opportunities for lifelong education for men and women. International Women’s Year in 1975 provided Dr. Bell and the Canadian Federation of University Women with a platform to advance family property law reform, open up boardrooms to women, and end gender stereotyping in educational institutions. She was the longest serving director of TVOntario and a director of the Canadian Adult Education Association.
Dr. Bell’s life was based on her believe that volunteerism contributed to the economy and the quality of society and public life. Her work was recognized when she received the Order of Canada (1981), the City of Nepean’s Distinguished Citizen Award (1982), a Doctor of Laws (Hon. Causa) from Carleton University (1984), the City of Nepean’s Millenium Medal (2000), the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), the Goveror General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case (2005), the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Awards: Scotiabank Lifetime Achievement Award (2007), and Carleton University’s highest non-academic award, the Founders Award (2008).
Renison is grateful for all her contributions to the success of this College but also for all her contributions to our society and our world. She will be missed.