Image courtesy of Alamitos Bay Yacht Club.
A ceremony celebrating the life of longtime Long Beach elementary school teacher and high school assistant swim coach Latham Bell, who died suddenly last week, will be held in June.
The 53-year-old Seal Beach resident died after experiencing a medical emergency while driving, which resulted in a collision in Long Beach last Thursday.
Bell spent his entire teaching career at Florence Bixby Elementary School—a total of 27 years, according to school officials.
While he taught all grade levels—as young as first grade—Bell spent many years teaching fifth graders. An avid technology user, at one point Bell was the school’s tech specialist, according to a school official. The “tech savvy” teacher would always make himself available when a colleague needed his help, they said.
When news of Bell’s passing spread, it left those who knew him at the school in shock.
“My students and I are getting through the day...but I have been in a state of shock all morning,” said Patrick Wilkerson, a fellow fifth grade teacher, in a message via ClassDojo to parents on Friday. “Mr. Bell ate lunch in my classroom every day and I have known him for over 20 years.”
In an email to the school community, Principal Sam Platis informed recipients that counselors and other professionals have been made available to students, families and staff.
Florence Bixby staff are currently in the process of coming together to plan a tribute in honor of Bell.
In the meantime, a Celebration of Life has been arranged for Bell by his family on June 4 at 3:00PM at the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, where he was a junior staff commodore.
“Latham spent decades at ABYC serving our membership, our Juniors and impacting the students and families of Wilson High School [where he was an assistant swim coach],” said ABYC Commodore Chuck Clay in a message to ABYC members. “To say that Latham will be missed is indeed an understatement.”
Bell is survived by his parents Susan and Richard, his siblings Bryant and Katie and children Richard and Gentry.