STERLING – Peter W. Bell of Sterling, formerly of Boone, IA and Fulton, passed away on January 7, 2020, at home in the care and love of his family at the age of 83.
He was born June 22, 1936, in Milwaukee, WI to Leo P. and Elda R. (Larson) Bell. Peter attended Fulton grade school and was a graduate of Fulton High School in Illinois.
Peter discovered his love for automobiles, especially Studebakers, in high school when he bought his first car, a Studebaker that didn’t run. He spent countless hours working on his Studebaker after school until he got it back into running condition.
He went to work for GE in 1956 and married his first wife, Nancy Popkin in April of 1958. Peter fathered three children, Michael, Laura, and Debra in 1960, 1961 and 1962 respectively.
He entered the Air Force in 1958, completing 4 years ending in June of 1962. He then returned to General Electric (GE) in Morrison, until February of 1967, in which he started working for IBM in Rockford.
In April 1972, Peter married his second wife, Betty Saldecki, who later died in July 1995.
As a Customer Engineer in computing, Peter retired in 1987, from IBM. After that, Peter went to work for Bell Atlantic’s division of Computer Maintenance in Rockford, where Peter officially retired in 1998. Peter then remarried in April of 2005 to the love of his life Betty L. Valladares. Peter and Betty shared their love of family and furry family, especially cats. Peter had a special heart for animals and had a way of connecting to them and was known as the “cat whisperer.”
Throughout his life, Peter’s favorite hobby was collecting and restoring automobiles, and specialized in Studebakers and belonged to seven car clubs concurrently. Peter was known for his extensive knowledge to fix anything especially automobiles. During his lifetime, Peter presided 3 times over the VMCCA (Vintage Motor Club of America). Peter was also a charter member and helped start the Rockford Studebaker Club (RRVCSDC) and held every position of the club during his membership.
Peter leaves behind many loved friends and family, including his wife, Betty L. Bell; daughter, Laura Wade; stepson, Allan (Mien) Saldecki; stepdaughter, Susan (Boun) Loungaphay; stepsons, Ernest Valladares Jr. and Tim Valladares; brother, Ronald (Kathleen) Bell; sister, Sandra (Thomas) Hansen and sister Karen Temple. Peter also leaves behind 11 beautiful grandchildren and his beloved cat, Charlie.
He was preceded in death by his parents; one son, Michael Bell; one daughter, Debra Warren (Bell); one stepson, James Saldecki ;and three grandchildren.
Visitation will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, January 12, 2020, at McDonald Funeral Home, Rock Falls. Service will be held on Monday, January 13, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. at McDonald Funeral Home, Rock Falls.
Should friends desire, donations may be made to Happy Tails Humane Society in Rock Falls, where Peter and Betty volunteered many hours to their furry friends.