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Bar News - December 18, 2009

In Memoriam: Ernest L. Bell III

Ernest L. Bell, III
Ernest L. Bell III, known to friends as "Tutt," died recently at his home in Keene. He was 83. Bell served as NH Bar Association president from 1978-79. In recent years, he served a term as the NHBA’s Association Delegate to the American Bar Association, and also served as chair of the NH Bar Foundation in its early years, helping to launch the IOLTA program.

Admitted to the Bar in 1952, Bell practiced in Keene all of his life and was a well-known figure in the community. His strong interest in aviation led to the recent completion of Wings Over Keene, a book devoted to the history of the Keene Airport.

At a memorial service held late last month, his friends and family recalled his impish humor, his outspoken nature, and his love of maps and travel.

Born and raised in Keene, he attended Keene High School and Harvard University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1947. He received his law degree from the University of Michigan School of Law. He practiced in Keene all of his life, having joined his father’s practice. As an attorney, Bell was the first in Keene to hire a female attorney, and was the first attorney in the state to hire a paralegal.

Notable cases in which Bell was involved include a case which "led to the prohibition of police officers wearing weapons in courtrooms" as well as a case in which he represented The Keene Sentinel in a right-to-know case which set "new standards of openness in governance and courts in New Hampshire."

During World War II, he was part of a civilian military intelligence endeavor, as a clerk doing mainly research on the Enigma code-breaking project at Bletchley Park in England. He was later involved in litigation that sought to open American and English records on the project.

Active in the community, Bell served as president of the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, president of the Cheshire Kennel Club, regional vice-president of the Lawyer-Pilots Association, and he regularly took pro bono cases for clients unable to afford legal representation.

On behalf of our colleague, Ernest L. Bell III, the NH Bar Association Board of Governors has made a donation to the NH Bar Foundation, 2 Pillsbury Street, Suite 300, Concord, NH 03301.

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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