Sam Bell, the founder of USF's College of Public Health, dies at 83
His wife, former USF president Betty Castor, said in a statement that Bell died of an "unexpected health complication."
Sam Bell, the founder of the University of South Florida's College of Public Health and a longtime supporter of the university, died Tuesday night.
He was 83.
Bell's wife, Betty Castor, who served as state education commissioner and USF president, said in a statement that Bell died of an "unexpected health complication."
Bell was elected to the state House from Volusia County as a Democrat in 1974, and was in line to become the House Speaker when he lost a re-election bid in 1988.
The stepfather of Tampa U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor went on to become a longtime lobbyist in Tallahassee, and was heavily involved in children’s health-care issues.
Bell graduated from Dartmouth College and Duke University School of Law. He helped found the College of Public Health in 1984 while serving in the Florida Legislature.
“I could see there were public health issues that were affecting our communities — things like infant mortality, tuberculosis and the need for clean drinking water,” Bell said during a 2018 interview. “And I could also see that a lot of people in the state’s county health departments were aging, with no one in line to continue their work. It was clear we needed a college to train a new generation of public health professionals.”
Bell was also an avid listener of public radio and served on the advisory board for WUSF.
Sam and Betty Castor — who was USF's president from 1994-99 — were married for 34 years and have six children and 10 grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.