February 20, 2017
Lilla Bell, Paradise Valley, Nev., was raised on a commercial Hereford ranch in California. She grew up showing Hereford cattle in 4-H and during college. She attended California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. She graduated in 1960 and was the first woman to graduate from Cal Poly’s animal science program. She was also the first woman on a champion collegiate judging team.
The same year, she married Woodie Bell, whom she had met in college, and they moved to Fallon, Nev., where they raised three sons: Dean, John and Dan.
They rejuvenated Lilla’s interest in the Hereford breed in 1973, when their sons joined 4-H and started breeding heifers to show. In 1976 Bell Ranch joined the American Polled Hereford Association (APHA).
In 1979 the family moved to Paradise Valley and increased their registered herd to raise bulls for commercial breeders. Ever since, the family has been breeding registered Hereford cattle with goals for high fertility and calving ease with as much milk and growth as the ranch’s extreme desert environment can support. They select heavily for good udders, pigment and structural soundness. With some of their land and customers’ land being leased Forest Service and mountainous Bureau of Land Management ground, bulls must learn to travel and get the job done in rough country. Today the Bell Ranch herd totals 110 registered females.
Lilla Bell served on the APHA Board of Directors, representing the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah, from 1992 to 1995 and was chairman of the board in 1995. She was the first and only woman to serve as APHA chairman.
Lilla also served as a director of the California/Nevada Polled Hereford Association.
All three of her sons are now married, blessing Lilla and Woodie with seven grandchildren.