Longtime Rio Grande President Hugh Bell Dies

MajorsOct 01, 2021

Longtime Rio Grande President Hugh Bell Dies

The son of company founder Saul Bell, he was pivotal in growing the company into what it is today.

Hugh Bell, who helmed Rio Grande for more than four decades, died Sept. 20 after a long illness.
Albuquerque, New Mexico—Hugh Bell, the longtime president of Rio Grande Jewelry Supply, died at home on Sept. 20 after a long illness.

Hugh Bell was the son of company founder Saul Bell.

Hugh was serving in the military when his father was diagnosed with cancer in 1962, according to the Rio Grande website

He received a hardship discharge and went home to help. 

Bell stepped into the role of president in 1966 at the age of 24, guiding Rio Grande as it grew from a small, regional jewelry wholesaler with a handful of employees to a company with more than 400 associates and customers worldwide.

He worked with three of his siblings, in addition to his father, at the company. 

Bell was pivotal in introducing and fostering the company’s participative management culture, which was based on 15 principles he created and championed. 

He retired in 2012. 

The following year, The Richline Group (a Berkshire Hathaway company) acquired Rio Grande from The Bell Group. 

Bell is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Margaret; sons Oliver (Rachel) and Adrian; grandchildren Ronan and Elise; siblings Eddie, Neil, Alan, Martin, Molly, and Bruce; and many nieces and nephews.
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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