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Norman Bell was a Saskatchewan boy through and through.

Norman Larry Bell: Husband. Baseball fan. Political junkie. Gambler. Born Jan. 27, 1941; in Watrous, Sask.; died April 8, 2018; in Saskatoon; from complications of diabetes; aged 77.

Norman Bell was a Saskatchewan boy through and through. He was raised with three sisters and two brothers in the Govan and Raymore areas, where family, community and sports were integral to his upbringing.

As a teen, Norman was involved in a bad car accident that kept him in hospital for more than a year. It even required a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for reconstructive surgery. These ordeals and the expense the family incurred instilled in Norman and his parents a strong belief and support for a public health-care system. They happily watched Tommy Douglas bring it to fruition in Saskatchewan only a few years later.

After high school, Norman attended business college in Saskatoon and met and married Shirley Hogg, the love of his life. He found his calling in politics as a ministerial aide for the provincial government in the Blakeney NDP era. In 1982, when the government changed, Norman was let go. But being so well versed in the political history of the province, he participated in future campaigns as a strategist and campaign worker. Later in life, city, provincial and federal candidate hopefuls (of more than one political persuasion) would seek him out to hear his input.

Norman could relate to anybody and excelled in sales thanks to his outgoing and affable personality. He had an amazing memory for names and showed an interest in people’s lives. Norman and Shirley never had any children but they took a keen interest in the children of all their family, friends and acquaintances.

Beer was a mainstay in Norman’s busy social life. Once he retrofitted a refrigerator to accommodate a full bar keg for his home. And at the couple’s wonderful lake-front cabin at Blackstrap Lake, many brews accompanied frequent gatherings. Norman loved to tell the story of a trip to Candlestick Park in San Francisco to watch the Expos: Despite the frigid weather, he, his brother and friends kept the beer hawkers very busy.

Norman also loved to bet and – long before Saskatchewan legalized sports wagering – he always had a bookie on call. He loved to parlay multiple teams for the big pay day and, in his heyday, when he couldn’t wait for the final score, he would call the time-keepers box of an NHL arena for an update.

In the past few years, Norman struggled with physical health but his mind remained keen. He followed the Blue Jays, the Roughriders and curling, and most days he would have a couple of Sports Select tickets on the go. As he passed I am sure he breathed a few words from Tommy Douglas’s favourite Scottish ballad: “I am hurt, but I am not slain; I’ll lay me down and bleed a while; and then I’ll rise to fight again.”

Ken Wood is Norman’s friend.

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