Valley County, IDGenWeb Project

Mary Catherine Bell

Mary Catherine Bell, fondly known as Cat, passed away Jan. 22, 2011 at the age of 60.

Cat was born in Morganton, N.C., to Vance Brackett and Ethel Marie Draughon.

Cat spent her early childhood helping her grandma run a dairy farm until her family moved to Florida. There, she swam in the coves while working to help support her mother and raise her sister.

At age 11, Cat started modeling. Her career with Mademoiselle Milan took her to Italy, Paris, Milan and New York and finally to Baltimore.

In the early mornings she rose to walk horses at the race track, a job she truly enjoyed. As a model, her work called for her to hang from the sides of helicopters and land planes in Army advertisements. During this time Cat married Jonathan Bell.

In the early 1970s, Cat and Jonathan moved to the Kooskia/Orofino area of Idaho, built a house and raised animals. Cat sold produce and organized an organic co-op. Here, Cat had her first daughter, Anna.

The family soon moved to Grangeville, where Cat’s second daughter, Jonna, was born. Cat honed her skills in home remodeling, established a prolific garden and sewed clothes for the children.

The family returned to Baltimore in 1986 for four years before returning to Grangeville.

In her 40s, Cat served on the PTA and became a volunteer ski patroller and ski instructor. Her favorite times were spent riding her dirt bike, snowmobiling and on cattle drives in the Idaho wilderness with her Quarter Horse Oatis and her dog Maggie.

In the early 2000s, Cat and Jonathan separated. Cat moved to Boise and became an award-winning real estate agent - her dream job.

Cat served clients in the towns surrounding Boise, frequently making trips to McCall, Cascade and as far north as Grangeville. She was joined by her partner, John Ballard, and his dog, Carter, in 2009.

In late 2009 Cat learned she had cancer. Her spirit stayed strong through the treatments. She was often fond of saying “Hug your loved ones.”

Picture Cat in the field, her hair summer-blonde, wearing a red top, skirt and heels, fixing a sprinkler head and closing a deal on the phone. She was having the time of her life.

Cat is survived by two daughters, Anna and Jonna, her partner, John Ballard, her sister Linda and brother, David. For information on the memorial service on March 5 in Boise.

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