‘Celebration of life’ scheduled after sudden passing of Columbus car dealership exec

Terry Bell, who was the general manager and managing partner of Headquarter Nissan in Columbus from 2013 until last November, has passed away. --
Terry Bell, who was the general manager and managing partner of Headquarter Nissan in Columbus from 2013 until last November, has passed away. -- Image from Together Columbus on Facebook

Terry Bell, the former co-owner and general manager of Headquarter Nissan on Whittlesey Road in Columbus since 2013, died Thursday after a battle with cancer.

Bell, the smiling face of the local dealership through a series of TV commercials, passed away in Birmingham, Ala., where he had relocated after leaving Headquarter Nissan in November. He was 57. He joined Benton Nissan of Hoover as general manager earlier this year and had been appearing in video clips with customers there less than two weeks ago.

A celebration of Bell’s life will take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday at at Cascade Hills Church in Columbus, with Bill Purvis officiating. Visitation for friends and family begins at 1 p.m. at the church. Burial will be at Parkhill Cemetery in Columbus.

“Being part of a community that covers Georgia, Alabama and Fort Benning is awesome,” Bell said in a promotion by Together Columbus, a campaign by local leaders to improve, promote and invest in the city. “The area is full of new people with different experiences. Those different outlooks help us change for the better; they help us grow and move forward.”

Together Columbus, on its Facebook page, expressed sadness over the passing of Bell, whose career also included serving as general manager at Bob Tyler Toyota in Pensacola, Fla., and at Palmers Toyota Superstore in Mobile, Ala. He also was co-owner and general manager at Eastern Shore Hyundai in Daphne, Ala., and general manager at Eastern Shore Toyota in Daphne.

“Terry was a joyful man and one of the most enthusiastic supporters of our community, even after he moved to Birmingham,” Together Columbus said. “A fervent fighter in his very sudden onset of cancer, we have no doubt he fought the good fight. Prayers to his family — we will miss you Terry.”

Other organizations that Bell spent time working with, according to his obituary, were Warrior Outreach, House of Heroes and Mercy Med.

The staff at Headquarter Nissan has been processing the news of Bell’s passing, with the dealership flying its large flag at half staff and observing a moment of silence on Friday morning. They urged the public to keep his family — Kimberly, Zac, Emily and Ashley — in their thoughts and prayers.

“Terry Bell left an impression on everybody he met and seemed to always leave a room in a better state than it was when he entered it and influenced and inspired so many of us professionally and personally,” Shawn Esfahani, owner and chief executive officer of SEAM Auto Group, which includes Headquarter Nissan, said in a Facebook post Thursday. “Terry was the type of man and leader we could all aspire to be like and had a personality and energy that was magnetic and genuine.”

A native of Raleigh, N.C., Terry Wayne Bell’s survivors include Kimberly Minter Bell, his wife of three decades, children Zachery Wayne Bell (Ashley) and Emily Layton Bell, his father Charlie Wayne Bell (Kay), and brother Jeff Bell (Danie). He was predeceased by his mother Geraldine Bell.