C. Ritchie Bell longtime resident of Chapel Hill passed away March 6, 2013 at 91 after a long illness. Ritchie was born April 10, 1921 in Cincinnati, OH and grew up in Asheville, NC. He served in the Army Air force as a B25 pilot with 61 missions based in Italy and Burma. He received his AB in 1947 (Class of 1945) and his MA in Botany in 1949 at UNC-CH, and his PhD in Botany at UC-Berkeley in 1953. After teaching for two years at the University of Illinois, he came back to UNC-CH as an Assistant Professor in Botany in 1955 where he remained until his retirement from teaching in 1991. He helped establish the North Carolina Botanical Garden and was the founding Director (1961-1986). Ritchie co-authored the “Vascular Flora of the Carolinas,” and the popular “Wild Flowers of North Carolina” with William C. Justice, both published by UNC Press in 1968. He also co-authored “Florida Wild Flowers and Roadside Plants” (1980) “Fall Color and Woodland Harvests of the Eastern Forests” (1990) and “Fall Color Finder” (1991) published by Laurel Hill Press. His awards among several include the Silver Seal Award from the National Council of Garden Clubs in 1979, the Flora Caroliniana Award from the NC Botanical Garden in 1999 and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from UNC-CH in 2007.
Ritchie is survived by his wife, Anne Lindsey; and his son, David Bell of Chapel Hill; his sister, Patricia Ramsey of Asheville; and his brother, W. David Bell of Macon, NC.
Ritchie was passionate about the native flora of North Carolina and the North Carolina Botanical Garden.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Ritchie’s memory be made to the North Carolina Botanical Garden — UNC — Chapel Hill (919) 962-0522. Specific fund suggestions include: The Children’s Garden, the UNC Herbarium, and the Unrestricted Fund.
The memorial gathering for Ritchie will be in the Reeves Auditorium at the North Carolina Botanical Garden at 11:00 A.M. April 10, 2013.