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S. Theodore Bella, Class of 1937

S. Theodore Bella, retired long-time microanalyst at The Rockefeller University, died Monday, November 23, 2009 at his Florida home after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease and cardiac issues. He was 88.

Mr. Bella operated a laboratory in Flexner Hall for 41 years, using emerging techniques in chromatography to provide quick, precise in-house analyses for the Rockefeller community’s medical researchers. Among his numerous successful collaborations, he assisted William H. Stein and Stanford Moore, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1972 for their elucidation of the structure-function relationship of enzymes, as well as R. Bruce Merrifield, who won the same prize in 1984 for developing a novel method of peptide synthesis. Mr. Bella also assisted other notable Rockefeller researchers, including Donald D. Van Slyke and Detlev W. Bronk, both National Medal of Science winners, and Lyman C. Craig, an Albert Lasker Medical Research Award recipient. Mr. Bella retired from Rockefeller in 1988.

Mr. Bella was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 15, 1921, to Angelo and Marietta Bella. After graduating from Townsend Harris High School and City College of New York, he served in the United States Army during World War II, where he worked with Italian prisoners of war and served as a riflery instructor. Later, the Army stationed him at Cornell University, where he met D. Mima Bella, whom he married in 1946. They moved to Brooklyn the following year and then to Teaneck, New Jersey, in 1959, where they raised two sons, Rick and Bill. After Mr. Bella’s retirement, the couple moved to Nokomis, Florida, in 1991, where Mr. Bella served as a literacy volunteer. He also enjoyed bird-watching, target-shooting, attending the theater and studying Italian culture. He was a member of the American Chemical Society, the National Italian American Foundation and Italic Institute of America.

Mr. Bella was predeceased by his wife in 2000. He is survived by his brother, Robert of Dunnellon, Florida; special friend, Eva Berrish of Venice, Florida; sons, Rick of Portland, Oregon, and Bill of Houston, Texas; and one grandson, Timothy of Ramsey, New Jersey. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association or the National Parkinson Foundation.

Source: Rockefeller University, Benchmarks, December 18, 2009