Diane “Dinny” Levitt Bell, 85, passed away peacefully on November 30th, 2018 surrounded by her family. Dinny was born on October 17th, 1933 in Cleveland, Ohio to Rosaline and Dr. Harry Levitt. As a graduate of Shaker Heights High School, she went on to attend Connecticut College to study music. She returned to Cleveland to marry her longtime love, Ronald H. Bell, in August of 1954. While Dinny finished her Bachelor of Arts at Case Western Reserve in 1955, Ronnie earned his DDS that same year. Dinny & Ronnie spent their early married years in Brooklyn and Philadelphia while Ronnie was in residency. At that time, Dinny worked for Dell Publishing and the Philadelphia Art Museum. While Ronnie served in the Army at Fort Bragg, NC, Dinny gave birth to their first two children, Douglas and Lisa. Then it was back to Shaker Heights to set up home, an oral surgery practice and raise their family, which expanded to include Carolyn & John.
Dinny eventually returned to school to earn her Masters in Art History at Case Western Reserve. Her passion for beautiful things extended to her jobs as a curator for the Akron Art Museum and BP America, where she managed their significant art collection. Her passion also carried over into her beautiful floral gardens and into fashion; Dinny loved exquisite fabrics and visceral colors, and always dressed in a classy style with flair.
Family came first to Dinny. She could always be found in her woody station wagon carpooling to music lessons, dance lessons, and sporting events. She loved helping with schoolwork and proofreading papers. Each moment with her children was a teaching moment as she took every opportunity to share her love of art and music, and stress the importance of education. She relished her role as “Nandi” with her nine grandchildren, and she never met a scoop of ice cream she didn’t like!
Dinny was a founding member of the Contemporary Art Society of the Cleveland Museum of Art, a member of the Women’s Committee and Print Club of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and a long-time docent. Dinny nurtured relationships with art collectors and local and international artists/architects such as Christo, Claes Oldenburg, and Frank Gehry. Dinny was instrumental in Frank Gehry constructing his first building in Cleveland at Case’s Weatherhead School. Frank Gehry invited Dinny to the opening of his museum in Bilbao, Spain. Dinny was also a member of the 21stCentury Club.
Dinny and Ronnie loved to travel the world; their travels took them to Japan, China, Israel, Greece, Portugal, Egypt, New Zealand, Peru, and even Prudhoe Bay Alaska in negative 84-degree weather to check on a BP installation. The crazy thing is that Dinny seemed to have a relative in every single location! Dinny also enjoyed a social game of tennis and her dance classes but truly relished her annual ski trips with family and close friends.
What we will remember most, however, is Dinny’s vibrant smile, her role as a nurturer, and her love of learning, art, and music. Even as Alzheimer’s stole her brilliant mind in her final years, Dinny never lost her impeccable manners and rosy outlook. Dinny would always compliment others, thank her caregivers, and show concern for loved ones’ well-being. We are forever grateful to her Arden Courts of Chagrin Falls community who embraced Dinny and her family with dignity and love.
Dinny is survived by her devoted husband of 64 years, Dr. Ronald H. Bell; her children; Douglas (Laura) Bell of Shaker Heights, Lisa (Greg) Bell Benedetto of Cleveland Heights, Carolyn (Stephen) Geldermann of Lake Forest, IL, and John Bell of Cleveland Heights; her grandchildren; Spencer and Marissa Bell; Molly, Harrison, David (Kristie) and Hannah Geldermann; Sara Channa (Meir) Goldstein and Asher (Chedva) Bell; and Sara Benedetto; 5 great grandchildren: Aviva, Maayan, Aharon, Schlomo, and Aharon; and her sister Alice (Burton) Saidel, brother Stuart (Nina) Levitt, sister-in-law Margie Sachs and numerous loving nieces and nephews.