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Community remembers “great spirit” of Rockton man who died suddenly over the weekend

Bell’s funeral will be held Saturday, June 12 at 11 a.m. at Riverside Church in Machesney Park.
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The Rockton and Roscoe community remember one of its members, 35-year-old Kevin Bell, whose body was found in a local park over the weekend. Those closest to him said he left a lasting impact on everyone he met.

“It was like I had been punched in the stomach,” said Hononegah High School Special Education Teacher Jim LaForge. “It really took the wind out of us.”

LaForge worked closely with Bell for more than a decade. First, in the special education program at Hononegah High School. Then, when Bell volunteered at the school after graduating in 2004.

“He was just such a great spirit,” LaForge said. “He was so supportive of everybody.”

When LaForge learned of Bell’s sudden passing at Kelley Myers Park in Roscoe last Sunday, he said he was devastated.

“I never once imagined it was Kevin - to find that out was truly difficult,” said LaForge.

Bell was an active member in the Rockton community. Those closest to him said they admire his success, despite facing many challenges.

“For our students in the Special Ed program, he was a role model, because he had done so well as an adult,” LaForge said.

Bell worked at Schnuck’s in Roscoe and loved to ride his horse, Neal. But he may be best known for running the flag up and down the football field at Hononegah before each home game.

“He was always working hard to improve himself, but he wanted to do everything he could himself,” said Bell’s horseback riding instructor, Kim Davis. “He was so much fun, and he loved to joke around.”

Davis taught Bell how to ride horses at Bravehearts at the Bergmann Centre in Poplar Grove. She said she can’t wrap her head around the loss.

“I always looked forward to Wednesdays, when Kevin was going to come,” Davis said. “He would come back here and spend time grooming Neal and getting ready.”

Davis, LaForge and the Rockton community said Bell became a bright light for so many people. It’s that light that will continue to shin in their eyes and in their hearts.

“Kevin had a short life, but it was a great life. He lived it to the fullest,” said LaForge.

Bravehearts and Hononegah said they hope to establish a memorial to honor Bell.

Bell’s funeral will be held Saturday, June 12 at 11 a.m. at Riverside Church in Machesney Park. For more details, visit the obituary website here.

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