Kathleen ‘Katy’ Goforth Bell

Kathleen ‘Katy’ Goforth Bell


Kathleen (Katy) Goforth Willems Bell, 82, died on August 12, 2020, at her home in Kansas City, Missouri, surrounded by her loving family.

Katy was born on March 3, 1938, in Long Beach, California to Harold and Janice Fannon Goforth.  Her mother and siblings returned to Missouri in June 1942, as WWII was raging. Katy graduated from Maryville High School in 1956. She attended Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri, where she met Robert (Bob) Willems, a recent US Navy veteran. They were married on Dec. 28, 1957. They moved to Rolla, Missouri, where Bob earned an engineering degree and Katy worked in a clinic. To this union was born Shelley Kay Willems and Donald Robert Willems, Jr.

After Bob’s sudden death in 1970, Katy returned to college to complete her degree. She obtained Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Avila College in Kansas City. She was a science teacher at East Grandview Junior High for several years.

She married Jerry Bell in 1974, bringing Michael Bell and Brenda Bell from a previous marriage. Later to this union Marsha Bell was born. The family later moved to Shell Knob, Missouri, where they owned and operated Bell’s Big Bobber resort for 14 years. Katy also continued her teaching career in the Washburn School District.

Upon retirement Katy and Jerry moved to The Villages in Florida and to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina where they enjoyed many years of riding motorcycles and playing golf. They returned to the Kansas City area in 2017.  

Katy is predeceased by her first husband, Bob Willems; son, Don Willems; parents, and siblings, Della, Virgil and Gene Goforth. She is survived by her husband, Jerry Bell, of the home; children, Shelley Kelly (Neil), Kansas City, Missouri; Michael Bell (Karen), Midlothian, Virginia; Brenda Fischer (Scott), Blue Springs, Missouri; and Marsha Bell, Clearwater, Florida; grandchildren, Katie LaForge (Brian), Patrick Kelly (Rachel), Maegan Kelly (Luis, fiancé), Robert Kelly, Corrine Willems, Payton Fischer, Logan Fischer, Michaela Bell, and Reagan Bell; great grandson, Gerard LaForge, great grandchild expected in January, 2021, (Patrick Kelly); daughter-in-law, Donna Schnorf Willems; siblings, Sue Schenkel, Maryville, Missouri, and Bill Goforth, Lompoc, California; a special cousin, JoAnn Outs, Maryville, and many nieces, nephews and friends.

Katy was an avid knitter and for over 50 years she knitted special Christmas stockings which included the person’s name and year of birth. She began the project with her children and then branched out to other members of the family. That included siblings, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews, great nieces and great nephews and most recently, a great great-nephew. In-laws knew they had been accepted into the family when they received their special stocking. Katy was diligent and recently began teaching her granddaughter, Maegan, to knit so she could continue the tradition.

A family service will be held Saturday, August 15, 2020.