Oterious Deforrest Bell passed from this earth on January 27, 2019 after both of his lungs collapsed. Many Chattanoogans might not recognize that name but tens of thousands of people knew "The Flower Man" or "The Midnight Florist" or, as he was known to most, simply as Sandy.
A Chattanooga native, graduate of Howard High School and veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Sandy had returned to his hometown after his service a troubled man. For several years during the 1980s he was homeless but as the riverfront revitalization began in 1982 and nightlife returned to the downtown area, Sandy reinvented himself and became a ubiquitous local icon. During the day, Sandy Bell worked odd jobs. He helped local business owners and residents maintain their property, mowed lawns - whatever was asked of him.
In the evenings, Sandy rode all over the city on his bicycle, offering kindness and flowers to everyone he encountered free of charge. It happened that people often offered him money in return although he never asked for it. Always a colorful character and a sharp dresser, he quickly became a perennial feature throughout the bars and restaurants. He served as a de facto ambassador, as everyone who had ever been out past 7:00 in downtown Chattanooga for four decades had a Sandy Bell story they carried with them long after their daffodil or daisy or rose had wilted. Many stories of awkward first dates include the romantic ice breaker of Sandy arriving with flowers in hand. in 2010, Sandy was reunited with his daughter after 26 years. His daughter, Angela Tucker, was startled to discover that her birth father was a local celebrity.
She documented her journey as well as his in the film "Closure." When Sandy Bell's health began to fail the city rallied to support him. It became clear that perhaps no other person in the history of the city was so universally loved across every demographic. Not since Luther Massingil has one individual stood so clearly as a stalwart demonstration of the spirit of Chattanooga.
All funds recieved will go towards funeral expenses, plane ticket to make sure his biological daughter can be here for the funeral (flying from Seattle). All additional funds will be put towards a memorial (hopefully a statue of Sandy in downtown Chattanooga).
Sandy's service will be open to the public as we want to include all of your stories about Sandy and, of course - flowers. Once we have identified a location for the service we will let folks know about the date and time.