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Thornton F. Bell

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Thornton Fletcher Bell
File:Judge Thornton Fletcher Bell of LA.jpg
Judge Bell in undated photograph
Judge of the Louisiana 1st Judicial District Court for Caddo and DeSoto parishes
In office
Preceded byThomas Fletcher Bell
In office
1921 – October 28, 1938
Member of the Caddo Parish School Board
In office
Personal details
Born(1878-10-10)October 10, 1878
Louisiana Shreveport
Caddo Parish, Louisiana, USA
DiedOctober 28, 1938(1938-10-28) (aged 60)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Cause of deathExtended illness
Resting placeForest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Nannetta Pauline Schuler Bell
ChildrenMary Evelyn Bell McGuire

Thornton Foster Bell

Son-in-law Edward Leo McGuire, Jr.
ParentsThomas Fletcher and Mary Cornelia Buckelew Bell
ResidenceShreveport, Louisiana
Alma materTulane University
Tulane University Law School

Thornton Fletcher Bell, also known as T. F. Bell (October 10, 1878 – October 28, 1938), was a lawyer from his native Shreveport, Louisiana, who served from 1912 to 1919 and 1921 until his death as a judge of the Louisiana 1st Judicial District Court.


Marker at the Caddo Parish Courthouse in Shreveport, Louisiana, commemorating Judge Thomas Fletcher Bell's contribution of live oaks at the courthouse square.

Bell was the son of Judge Thomas Fletcher Bell (1836-1912), a native of Lancaster County, Virginia, and the former Mary Cornelia Buckelew (1843-1933), originally from Alabama. Thomas Bell had been a captain in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and the state adjutant general under Governors Francis T. Nicholls and Murphy J. Foster, Sr. The senior Bell was a former school superintendent for the Caddo Parish School Board prior to his election as judge.[1] He donated the live oaks at the courthouse square.

Thornton Bell attended the former Thatcher school and then public schools in Shreveport. One of his classmatews was Caddo Parish Sheriff Thomas Roland Hughes. C. E. Byrd, for whom C. E. Byrd High School in Shreveport is named, was among Bell's teachers. Bell graduated in 1899 from Tulane University in New Orleans. Two years later, he received his law degree from the Tulane University Law School. He practiced law in Shreveport until his father's death, at which time he was appointed to fill his father's unexpired term as district judge. In 1919, Bell resigned from the bench after nearly seven years of service to enter into a legal partnership with Clare Clyde Clark (1888-1976), a graduate of the Louisiana State University Law Center and a prominent Southern Baptist layman in Shreveport.[2] Bell was elected to the Caddo Parish School Board the same year. Bell was the school board president when he was elected in 1921 once again to the district judgeship, on which he served until his death.[1]


Bell died of an extended illness at the age of sixty. He was survived by his wife, the former Nannetta Pauline Schuler (1882–1968), a native of Keatchie in DeSoto Parish;[3] one daughter, Mary Evelyn Bell McGuire (1916–2011); one son, Thornton Foster Bell (died 1960); one brother, W. B. Bell, and a sister, Sallie Bell, all of Shreveport.[1]

Bell's son-in-law, Edward Leo McGuire, Jr. (1914–1983), a native of Taunton in Bristol County in southeastern Massachusetts, met Mary Evelyn Bell while McGuire was a second lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corps during maneuvers in the Shreveport area. He became a decorated bomber pilot in World War II. McGuire was engaged in the roofing business. Like his father-in-law, McGuire served on the Caddo Parish School Board. From 1964 to 1970, he was one of the first three Republican members of the board, alongside the late Joel B. Brown and Billy Guin. McGuire lost the 1970 race for mayor of Shreveport to Calhoun Allen, a Republican-turned-Democrat, who remained in the post until 1978.[4]

Services were held at the First Presbyterian Church, of which Bell was a member. Judge Bell and other family members are interred at Forest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport.[1]

Bell was so respected in the community that government offices closed for his funeral. So did deliberations of a grand jury. At the time of his death, Bell held the distinction as the then longest-serving judge in Caddo Parish history. His colleague, Judge J. H. Stephens, described Bell as "always fair, impartial, just and wise in his decisions. He was loved by both the members of the bar and the people of Caddo Parish."[1] Judge Robert J. O'Neal, who served on the court until 1961, described Bell's passing at the time as "a great personal loss to me. I, as the youngest in service of the Caddo Parish district judges, have always looked to him as an ideal."[1]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Judge T. F. Bell Dies; Funeral Service Today – District Jurist and Son of Shreveport Pioneer Succumbs Friday". The Shreveport Times (through October 29, 1938. p. 1 and 3. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  2. "Clare C. Clark, Prominent Local Attorney, Dies". The Shreveport Times (through April 16, 1976. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  3. "Nanette Pauline Schuler Bell". Shreveport Journal (through March 1, 1968. p. 1C. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  4. Shawn Bohannon (May 9, 2014). "Edward Leo McGuire, Jr". Retrieved March 3, 2015.

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