Heaven is greater with the arrival of Griffin Bell

Georgia is saying goodbye to one of our state's most distinguished citizens. Griffin B. Bell, lawyer, judge, U.S. attorney general and confidante to presidents, governors and many others, died Monday. A public graveside service will be 11 a.m. today in Americus, where he was born. A public memorial service will be 11 a.m. Friday at Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta. When we think of Griffin Bell, some of the words that come to mind are distinguished, integrity, professionalism, charm, statesman, enduring. In reading some of the news accounts reacting to his death, we heard words that help define this Georgia giant. Said his grandson Griffin Bell III: "He was ready to go. We are just blessed to have him so long. He's a great man, a great grandfather. We're going to miss him -- everything was checked off his list. ... He was still running the show until very recently ... If he had another six months, he'd still knock off four or five major projects." Said law partner Bob Steed: "If he took a position, he'd take it strongly and defend it. But if someone improved it, he was willing to give way. His ego didn't get involved with his choices. ... He was sharp to the very end. He told his son that there must be a committee in heaven in charge of dying, because it was taking so long."
Former Mercer University Chancellor R. Kirby Godsey said, "Griffin Bell was more than an outstanding statesman or a great American; he stood as a first citizen of the world whose voice and insights will shape human history for decades to come." "No novelist -- not even Dickens or John Irving -- could have created a more memorable character than Judge Bell," said law partner Richard N. Schneider. He took the role of being a lawyer and transformed it into legend. ... It is remarkable that every man and woman who spent even a brief period with Judge Bell would cling to him and claim him as their hero forever. That's how legends are made, and legends last forever -- and that will be the case with the great Griffin Bell." And finally, from former prosecutor and now CNN personality Nancy Grace: "I have known many, many judges during my legal career. Judge Bell, without a doubt, was the most honorable of them all ... He will be missed sorely, but, as of this moment, heaven has become even greater."


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