Graham "Eric" Bell, age 81, of Albuquerque, NM, passed peacefully at home on Sunday, April 2, 2023. Born October 22, 1941, in Flint, Michigan, he was the son of the late Graham Earle and Vernal [Weaks] Bell. He grew up in Albuquerque and graduated from Highland High School in 1959.
Eric enlisted in the Army and, after completing his service, returned to Albuquerque and graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1966. Soon after, he began his career as a Contracts Specialist with the Department of Defense and later retired as Director of Contracts for the Albuquerque Operations Office of the Department of Energy.
Eric retired at the age of 54 so he could spend time fishing. He fished from Alaska to Mexico and points in between. He was happiest when he was fishing Elephant Butte Lake. He thought nothing of getting up at 4:30 a.m. to get on the lake and smoke cigars. When "5 o'clock somewhere" came around, Eric loved his 2" steaks and gin martinis. He fished Elephant Butte until the pain from spinal stenosis made it impossible for him to sit in his bass boat. When he had to give up fishing, he took up woodworking. He made beautiful and unique furniture.
Eric photographed weddings and the West. Often, he would be up with the sun and would wait until the light was perfect for a one-of-a-kind photograph. When it became too painful for him to stand or walk, he spent many hours taking photographs of birds flying in the trees outside his window.
Eric was preceded in death by his daughter, Stacey Bell Reed, on December 22, 2022, and her mother, Joan Morgan Bell Reed. He is survived, loved, and cared for his by wife of 45 years, Carol [Coffman, Spray] Bell, and the children he raised and loved: Stephanie Spray Stiehr (John) of Webster Groves, MO, and John S. Spray, Jr. (Kristie Markovitz) of Billings, MT. Eric is also survived by two brothers, his sister Janis Bell Wilson (Dan) of O'Fallon, MO, and his nephew Kevin Bell (Sarah) of Phoenix, AZ.
Also surviving Eric is his friend of fifty years, David Tuttle, of Albuquerque, NM. David never wavered. He came to visit and took Eric to his doctor's appointments, out to lunch, and anywhere else they decided to go. When riding in the car and sitting became too painful for Eric, David often fixed him lunch. David was a good friend, and we all should hope to have someone in our lives like him. David, thank you.
Without a doubt, Eric loved us. He encouraged us to be the best we could be. He was always there to celebrate the good times and support us when we needed him. Our lives were blessed by having Eric in them. He was one of a kind and will truly be missed by all who were lucky to be part of his life.
As per Eric's wishes, he has been cremated, and at a later date, his ashes will be interred at Santa Fe National Cemetery.
If you wish, memorial offerings may be made to Hawks Aloft, Inc., which supports conservation, avian research, and education. Hawks Aloft works to preserve New Mexico's wildlife and unique landscapes. https://www.hawksaloft.org/donate/ or Attention: Gail Garber