Photo Gallery Compiled by Troy Stolt, Photo Editor. Photos by Troy Stolt, Connor Brown, Maddie Witt, and Amanda Morgan Fann.
By Amanda Morgan Fann, Staff Writer—
The city said goodbye to a beloved local icon and friend to all, during a memorial service and vigil Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019.
Veteran Oterius Bell, commonly known as Sandy “The Flower Man” Bell, passed away Sunday, January 27, after being hospitalized with a collapsed lung.
Bell’s life was honored with a memorial service at John Henry Performing Arts Center ending with a vigil at Sculpture Fields. Public Officials, Sandy’s family and Chattanooga community
members shared stories about the beloved man, who brightened the streets of Chattanooga with his smile and his flowers for years.
Bell’s sister, Harriet Sills, said she could not believe the mass of people who came to show their love for Bell, and she thanked everyone for their support.
“Honoring Sandy in this magnitude has really warmed our hearts,” Sills said. “I know Sandy loved every one of y’all.”
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Burke presented the inaugural “Sandy the Flower
Man Award” to Sills. The award is the first of its kind.
Burke also declared February 14th “Sandy Bell Day,” grounding Sandy’s legacy in Chattanooga for years to come.
People from all walks of life had stories and fond memories of Sandy to share. The congregation of people showed just how much impact one kind soul could have on so many.
Nicole Kelly, Joey Harris and Laney Carter said they came to celebrate a human with an inspiring approach to life, always creating and sharing pure happiness in the community.
“I bought flowers from him for 20 years,” Harris said, “and [he] always made me smile.”
Alex Rivers was one of the community member memorial speakers. He has been a server at different bars around Chattanooga for years where he met and gained a close friend in Bell. He recounted the times he would tell Bell when it was a customer’s birthday and without hesitation, Bell would wish them a happy one with a song and dance.
“A lot of servers in town, me included, used to just do it for the money,” Rivers said, “but over time he helped me love. When you serve someone just to serve them, the money always takes care of itself; that’s what I got from him.”
The ceremony ended with a few words from the pastor and with arms extended everyone filled the night sky with candle light, just as Bell filled all their lives with light and happiness.
“He was an individual that radiated joy everywhere he went,” said Carter. “I think that is
the lasting legacy he is going to leave the city.”