Dr. Nelson Bell: Inventor and Creative Thinker

Dr. Nelson Bell, Ruth Bell Graham’s father, was a gifted inventor and creative thinker in addition to being a skilled surgeon. He transformed what could have been a dreary, difficult place to live in a peasant village in China into what felt like an idyllic place to grow up to Ruth.

Dr. Nelson Bell

Dr. Bell believed that it was equally important to work and play hard. With his own hands, he dug a brick swimming pool which held five thousand gallons of water. Since temperatures in that part of China could reach 106-degrees in the summer, the pool provided a wonderful respite from the heat for the family. Dr. Bell also built a clay tennis court on the grounds of the mission and created a golf course by burying cans in the yard to use as the holes.

Because he created such a wonderful, fun environment for his family, it was easy to forget about the fear they might otherwise have had as the political situation in China grew more and more dire. Dr. Bell’s creative way of thinking was certainly passed on to his daughter Ruth who found creative uses for items around her house, never wanting to waste anything. Tin cans became lamps, cards from hosiery packages became notepads, and falling cabins became the boards of her new home.

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