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Sir Brian Bell, nation builder, dies at 82


Bell_Sir_Brian SIR BRIAN BELL, a great champion of PNG business, died yesterday in a Brisbane hospital.

Sir Brian graduated in 1948 with a Diploma in Pharmacy from what is now the Queensland University of Technology.

He moved to Port Moresby in 1954 as pharmaceutical chemist in the Bulk Medical Store and soon after established PNG’s first electrical retail outlet. The business expanded into department stores, home centres, chemicals, cleaning products and industrial equipment.

Sir Brian was chairman and managing director of the Brian Bell group of companies, the largest business of its kind in PNG, generating annual revenues of K253 million and employing 1,300 people.

He was also a generous philanthropist - a prominent benefactor of Port Moresby General Hospital (of which he was chairman), the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and Port Moresby City Mission.

Sir Brian was knighted for his outstanding community service in PNG and was also awarded high honours by Norway and Sweden for his service as their Honorary Consul General in PNG.

He had been ill for some time and died of heart failure.


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Malcolm Dickson

Reading these tributes and the news about the desecration of his grave made me reflect about the contribution Brian Bell made and how he would forgive the desecrators.

I knew him well. We were Port Moresby Councillors together in 1971-74. He was forever cheerful and would not take any part in political upmanship.

His humility and generosity will not be forgotten. Is there a memorial to him established in Port Moresby?

Joshua Goa

Sir Brian Bell was the great business man that PNG has ever seen..He was a generous giver in cash,goods and services to charity organisations,churches,hospitals and the poor..May you rest in peace Sir Brian Bell.


I have placed photographs of the funeral at the OII Australia website at for those who could not attend.

Felix Pakop

Since he passed on, I just couldn't help it but cry every time I read stories of this noble gentleman with a big heart for everyone.

I never met him but I can already feel the vacuum he left behind.

A great man indeed with a noble heart that touches every person in a land he came to love since he arrived on its shore in 1954.

RIP, Mr B, you have truly left a legacy that is not tainted by the challenges of this world. We can only admire your life's history and salute you.

Keith Fawkner

I had the privilege to work for Sir Brian Bell, managing Belltek Laboratories, from 1976 to the end of 1979. He was a great businessman and a good employer. My condolences and those of my wife, Anne, go to Trevan and his family.

Bruce Copeland

Word on the street is that the people who opened the grave were seeking the expensive coffin for resale. It is said to happen regularly.


I await with deep concern. I hope reports that this wonderful man's dignity and peace has been desecrated are false and the country that he gave so much too has maintained respect.

David Olley

The Post-Courier for today, Monday 9 August 2010, carries a front page report that Sir Brian Bell’s grave was robbed over the weekend and the coffin dug up, opened and thoroughly searched.

It will be interesting to see the responses in the newspapers tomorrow. Absolutely disgusting – that’s what I say.


Todays 'Post-Courier' carries the shocking news that over the weekend someone dug up Sir Brian Bell's coffin and removed the body.

"Those including members of the public interviewed by the Post-Courier said those that carried out that inhuman act were animals; some even described them as witch doctors or 'sanguma'’, who were after the body of Sir Brian.

"The reaction comes after grave robbers dug up the burial plot of Sir Brian, only a day or two after the legendary businessman was laid to rest there at the public cemetery on the outskirts of Port Moresby.

"Close friends of the late knight confirmed the incident yesterday, saying the grave was dug up and the casket containing the body was opened and thoroughly searched."

Meredith Kuusa

Full of generosity, he gave with no strings attached. A rare find. Sir Brian's legacy will remain in our hearts forever. May your soul rest in peace, O great son of PNG.

Bruce Copeland

With the death of Sir Brian Bell, an era has passed in Papua New Guinea.

He died at the age of 82 years, a good innings as people are apt to say.

He contributed to humanity to the day he died.

In the months before his death, he was still on the job, but not looking well.

Sir Brian always had a special soft spot for AIDS Holistics in the struggle to promote Positive Living.

After all, he started his working career as a pharmacist and had an educated understanding of health. Positive Living hit the spot with him.

In the early stages, he helped with funding for us to start a media campaign on Positive Living. But then that became unnecessary once the message was taken up in the media. Sir Brian was always there.

It was impossible to walk through his store without being stopped by Sir Brian and asked how the Positive Living message was going.

In the last months, he asked again and expressed concern that he did not see much written on Positive Living. He was happy that there was a column in the newspaper PNG Health. I took him a copy.

I was not begging but I told him that we had no computer. Within two days, our work was graced by a computer compliments of Sir Brian.

AIDS Holistics has always glided gracefully on the good will of a good man.

He is loved and missed by those who knew him in AIDS Holistics.

It was not for what he gave us. It was for being there as a caring supporter. He gave his ear to problems and made us feel that there was a higher cause that we all have to serve. The load ceased to be heavy.

He was a decent man. What more needs to be said.

Sharne Black

How sad we were to read this news. PNG will miss him.

Only 2 years ago, I called Brian Bell's Home Centre in Lae. I didn't realise the time that it was just after closing.

I was advised by the man who answered the phone that the counter staff member I was chasing had probably knocked off. I recognised Sir Brian's voice and asked if it was him.

He said, yes, and I apologised for the time of the call and asked why he answered it. He said, "Well the answering service didn't kick in and someone had to answer the phone!"

George H Ume

Sir Brian Bell. RIP. We salute you!

A true Papua New Guinean (naturalised) who had a very big heart for his adopted country, which he preferred to reside and spend his life in.

His investments and contributions have helped the economic development of our country.

We take our hats off for a great man! Thank you, Sir Brian Bell. Your name will always remain in our hearts!

Ravu Kila

Many Papua New Guineans are proud of Sir Brian's unselfish contribution and sacrificial commitments to the overall economic and social development of PNG.

Sir Brian created employment and training opportunities for all races. He sponsored scholarships and raised funds for many charitable causes till his death.

For all of us, present and future, we can take a leaf from Sir Brian's life.

Rest in eternal peace.

Joe Wasia

My tribute to the late Sir Brian Bell, the great champion of PNG businesses whom many Papua New Guineans call Mr B through his hard work, commitment and effort he made to the nation for almost 60 years.

It’s a great loss for PNG. We will never forget the name tag (Mr B) when we are in need for sponsorship in sport, scholarships etc. His name will be recalled.

We are very much thankful that his footprints are here in almost all centres of the country. His success in business, efforts and commitment to PNG will be counted in the history.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.


Keith, thank you for this post. I have put up one of my own at

Effrey Dademo

May his soul rest in peace! A truly great man with a heart for an adopted country, who invested a lot of time and effort in PNG and its people!

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