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Subject: Charles Bell, General Mills Executive

Santa Barbara
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Date Posted: April 16, 2003 1:57:39 EDT

Charles H. Bell, the son of the founder of General Mills, who helped transform a flour-milling company into an international diversified food manufacturer, died on Saturday in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 95.

In the 25 years he held top positions at the company, Mr. Bell broadened the interests of the family business beyond milling into food manufacture, clothing, toys and various retail ventures. Today the company has sales of $10.8 billion a year, with major investments in Canada, Britain, Mexico and Malaysia.

He was president of General Mills from 1952 to 1961 and chairman from 1961 to 1967.

Mr. Bell retired in 1969 but remained on the board until 1977. He was also a longtime member of the boards of United States Steel and Burlington Northern, as well as a trustee of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Charles H. Bell was born in Minneapolis on Sept. 24, 1907, the son of James Ford Bell, who founded General Mills in 1928 through the merger of several milling companies.

Mr. Bell came from a long line of millers and merchants, starting with Henry Bell, who ran a flour mill in England during the 18th century before coming to America in 1733.

After attending Yale, Mr. Bell joined General Mills in 1930, the same year he married Lucy Winton, who died in 1994.

In the 1970's Mr. Bell established the Belwin Foundation, which has since acquired about 1,300 acres of land in Minnesota to protect it from development; it runs an outdoor educational program on the land for children from the public schools of St. Paul.

Mr. Bell is survived by a daughter, Lucy Hartwell, of Wayzata, Minn.; five grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. A son, David, died in 1955.

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