Lilla Hunter Bell
Lilla Hunter Bell
Lilla Hunter Bell passed away peacefully September 17, 2020 surrounded by family at the Bell Ranch in Paradise Valley, Nevada. Lilla and her twin brother, Bob, were born on June 12, 1938 in San Francisco to Phelps and Lilla Hunter. Her sisters Beth and Pat followed a few years later.

Lilla spent much of her early years on the family ranch near Hollister where she found immense joy caring for and raising animals.

Lilla was active in 4-H at an early age raising and showing Hereford cattle. She also had a deep love for corgis, breeding and showing them throughout the years.   

Lilla was a pioneer in the agricultural industry. She received a bachelor’s of science in Animal Husbandry from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

Lilla was the first woman to graduate from Cal Poly’s animal science program. She also achieved incredible success on the College’s livestock judging team and was the first woman on a champion collegiate judging team.

She also won the Women’s Stockhorse class at the Salinas Rodeo with Bill Dorrance’s horse “Patrick.” In later years, she served on the American Polled Hereford Association’s (APHA) Board of Directors, representing 5 Western States. 

Lilla was the first and only woman to serve as chairman for APHA’s board. She was an integral part in bringing together the APHA and the American Horned Hereford Association into a single Association. 

As a result of her contributions and lifelong support of the breed, she was inducted into the Hereford Hall of Fame in 2012.

In 1957, she attained worldwide fame when a photograph of her and her triplet Hereford calves hit the newspapers.

She received fan mail from across the world, and her famous photograph made its way to Humboldt County, Nevada into the home of the Bells. A few years later, Forrest “Woodie” Bell would meet the beautiful young woman in the photograph at the San Bento Fair in California. Woodie bought Lilla an Orange Crush soda pop. 

Lilla often remarked to her family and friends, even years later, that she could still taste that soda. 

Lilla and Woodie were married in 1960 and had three sons together: Dean (Nikki), John (Jhona), and Dan (Theresa). Lilla loved and cared for her boys deeply. 

They rejuvenated her interest in the Hereford breed as the boys joined 4-H and started breeding heifers to show. 

She loved watching her boys compete in high school, college, and professional rodeo. 

Lilla’s seven grandchildren, Dawson, Lilla “Lilly”, Trase, Quint, Cade, Shane, and Carly, also raised and showed Hereford cattle in 4-H. Lilla gifted each of her Grandchildren a Hereford heifer to foster the joy she had felt for raising Herefords over the years.

During the time her grandchildren were showing cattle, Lilla served as an advisor for the Paradise Valley 4-H Beef Club and sat on the Humboldt County Show and Sale Committee. 

Lilla enjoyed taking drives through the fields at the Bell Ranch. She was an accomplished photographer and a world-class cook. She was the kindest soul this world has ever known.

The family will be holding a celebration of life in December. More details on that event will follow.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Winnemucca FFA Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, PO Box 2608, Winnemucca, NV 89446-2608.