PELHAM, N.Y. Local store owner and lifelong Pelham resident Richie Bell will be honored by the Pelham Department of Recreation for his 40 years of service at a special ceremony at The Davenport in New Rochelle.
I was surprised, but its a good honor, said the 81-year-old Bell. Im a Pelham person. I love Pelham and I love the Pelham people and they know it.
The owner of Village Wine & Liquors brought his love of sports to the people of Pelham and served as chair of the villages recreation department from 1988 to 1995 and commissioner from 1971 until his retirement in 2011.
Under his leadership, the department created leagues in various sports, a senior citizen lunch program and separate recreation programs for children with special needs and high school students. He coached a Little League team for 30 years and several other teams in basketball and softball.
Over the years, he said, his greatest honor was when a local baseball field was named after him on Richie Bell Day. He received a letter from President Ronald Reagan on that day.
Bell said he was grateful he was able to help kids and senior citizens as much as he did throughout the years.
I loved what I did, said Bell. I love kids and I worked all the time to try and help them. Everybody has something different. Thats really my life.
He was quick to point out that he is not the only who has contributed to the community.
Im lucky to get this because a lot of other people do things too, said Bell. Theyve done a lot for me. I did a lot for Pelham because I love it, but Pelham gave back to me. Theyve treated me good."
His daughter, Lois Soccodato, is thankful to see her fathers hard work being honored.
Oh my God, this is like the biggest privilege and honor to see my dad being recognized for all his years of service, she said. Im really, really proud.
While her father has accomplished a lot for Pelham sports, she looks at what he has done for children and the senior citizens as his crowning achievement.
He does a lot for the people of Pelham, whether it be them needing food or finding places for them to live or whatever services that they might need, he always comes through for them, said Soccodato. He just loves whether its the senior citizens, whether its the children with special needs, or the youth in Pelham, everyone.
Earlier in his career, Bell wanted to be a teacher, he said, and he is thankful that did not come to fruition.
"I really wanted to be a teacher," he said. "It didnt work out that way, but it did work out better for me.
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