Mary Frances Bell

January 26, 1942 ~ May 20, 2022 (age 80)


Mary Frances Hankins-Bell entered into this life on Monday, January 26, 1942 in Fayette County Alabama.  She was the daughter of the late Allen Jordan Hankins and the late Lurene Marybelle Terrell-Hankins. Mary grew up in a large, close-knit Christian family in Fayette Alabama where she was baptized at an early age at Gibson Chapel Baptist Church under the leadership of the Reverend R.L. Thomas. Mary also attended Gibson Chapel Elementary School in her early childhood years and richly excelled in her academic endeavors throughout her school years, subsequentially graduating third in her high school class at Fayette County Training School in Fayette Alabama in 1960. Mary attended Tuskegee Institute before relocating to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to be closer to her siblings and family.

As a young woman, Mary found work in the house-keeping industry and worked very hard to establish herself as a young adult. During this season of her life, Mary gave birth to her first child Ronnie Allen (1962). Shortly thereafter, Mary relocated to central New Jersey and it was during this season when Mary met the love of her life, Ernest C. Bell. Ernest and Mary relocated to New Brunswick, New Jersey where they established a loving home and out of this loving relationship, Mary bore two more children; Gregg Phillip (1965) and Sherri Eileen (1966). Mary raised her children with love, emphasizing the importance of good discipline, having a good education and also stressing the need to live their lives with a sense of dignity and grace.

Vocationally, Mary later would later transition into the administrative and financial industry, working for a number of different corporations in central New Jersey, including Triangle Corporation in North Brunswick, N.J. and Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, N.J. In 1980, Mary was hired by Commodities Corporation (USA) in Princeton, New Jersey (which later became Goldman Sachs Corporation). Mary worked for 25 years as a financial administrator for Goldman Sachs, successfully excelling to the position Assistant Vice President for the Treasury Administration Division. She served faithfully for Goldman Sachs until her retirement in 2005.

Mary and Ernest loved to travel with their children and the family often took trips up and down the eastern seaboard to points far north as Montreal and Toronto Canada, to points as far west as Ohio and Tennessee, and to points as far south as Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Mary also had an extreme passion for sewing and quilting, a trait she inherited from her mother Lurene. Mary’s high level of quilting expertise was deeply admired by so many of her friends and family. For many years Mary worked hard to perfect her craft - hand-stitching dozens of quilts, only to then generously donate them to her family, friends and colleagues. She was well known for her ability to create quilting patterns and arrangements that were spectacularly unique and coveted by so many.

Another one of Mary’s lifelong passions was the study of her family history. Mary and Ernest traveled to many states over the years interviewing older family members from both the Hankins/Terrell & Wilson families, as well as the Bell family. During this time, Mary compiled droves of generational data and information regarding the ancestral lineage of both the Hankins and Bell families, often being referred to as the official historiographer of both families.

Mary was also a lover of gospel and soul music, spending many afternoons listening to Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers, The Five Blind Boys of Alabama, The Nightingales and Mahalia Jackson, as well as the soulful sounds of Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and Al Green.

Mary made sure that all of her children had a strong Christian education background and involved them in Sunday school activities at a very early age. Mary had attended a number of church congregations over the years before finally becoming a member of Sharon Baptist church in New Brunswick, New Jersey where she served as a member of the church’s finance committee. She attended church until her fulltime caregiving responsibilities for her ailing late husband and her own health ailments prevented her from regular attendance. 

In October of 2021, Mary’s health was such that she could no longer live alone in New Jersey, so she relocated to Ellicott City, Maryland where she could be closely cared for by her oldest son Ronnie and is wife Linda (with whom she had a very special and loving daughter-in-law relationship). Mary continued to receive regular care and prayerful support from Ronnie, Sherri and Gregg during this golden season of her life, as well as regular visits from her siblings, grand-daughter, nieces, nephews and friends – both old & new. She continued to fight the good fight of faith until The Holy Spirit whispered to Mary that her battle had already been won, and now it was time for her to rest from her struggles and to now ascend into the clouds to go be with her ancestors in the presence of the Lord. In faithful obedience, Mary yielded to the will of the Holy Spirit and departed this life peacefully on the afternoon of May 20, 2022 in Ellicott City, Maryland.

Mary was pre-deceased by her late husband and love of her life, Ernest C. Bell (2016), her siblings, Carmen, Washington, Raymond, Wardell, Rayford, James Buford, Harvey, Joel and Wilma. Mary is survived and profoundly missed by her three children, Reverend Dr. Ronnie Allen Hankins Sr.(Linda) of Baltimore, MD., Gregg Phillip Hankins of Plainfield, NJ., Sherri Eileen Hankins of Mount Holly, NJ.; Siblings Sudine Turner of Neptune, NJ., Winfred Earl (Sonny) Hankins (Mary) of Atlanta, GA., Gloria Walker of Tinton Falls, NJ; Grand-children Kourtney Renee Hankins - currently teaching in Shanghai, China, Ronnie Allen Hankins Jr. of Sarasota, FL., Jontae Ayanna Hankins of Newark, DE., Yolanda Jones of Williamsburg, VA., Shamika Garnett of Newport News, VA., In-laws Phyllis Hailes of Perth Amboy, NJ.,

John Bell of North Brunswick, NJ., Donald Bell of Piscataway, NJ., Special God-child Lois Overby (Charles) of Indianapolis, IN., Special Angel - Keisha Brockington of North Brunswick, NJ., and a long host of beloved nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary Frances Bell, please visit our floral store.

Memorial Tree
A Memorial Tree was planted for Mary

We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Buckland Funeral Home

Join in honoring their life - plant a memorial tree


June 4, 2022

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Franklin Memorial Park
1800 State Highway 27
North Brunswick, NJ 08902

Celebration of Life
June 4, 2022

11:00 AM
Franklin Memorial Park
1800 State Highway 27
North Brunswick, NJ 08902

Video is available for this event

© 2022 Buckland Funeral Home. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility