In the days and weeks after Alan passed away, friends and family reflected on his wonderful life and the difference he made.  Many of their notes and letters are posted here.  We welcome you to remember Alan by “signing” the guestbook with your own thoughts.   Please send all guestbook notes to

Kate Jacoby Avi Mermelstein Matthew
Abby Feinstein Kimberly (Irina's friend) Debbie Friedberg
Jackie Weinstein Kimberly Kanoff Wayne Cutler
Beatrice from Novantas Dana Lindsay Wilner
Uncle Michael Shana Hardgrave Sarah Welch
Gia Darigo Preetam Rao Edward W. Jefferson

Kate Jacoby - 2012

Alan continues to shape my life just about every day. Though I didn't stay very close with him after high school, our friendship from 6th grade through senior years is among my most cherished. Everyone talks about how bright and funny he was, and I wholeheartedly agree. But I remember him most for his compassion. I don't imagine he had a single enemy in life. In fact, I think people would be hard-pressed to say anything less than complimentary about him. He was just that classy. He could engage with every single type of person he met, and I always admired him for that. You really did get the sense, from an early age, of how much he truly valued the good opportunities life brings.

Tears still come to my eyes when I think about him leaving us all. For his immediate family and close friends, I can't imagine how hard it must have been. I hope it's some comfort to think of all the lives he touched and continues to shape.

I like to think back to the day Alan was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Lower Moreland. I believe it was his sister who read a list of tips and advice. My favorite, the one I repeat to myself nearly every day, is "Live out your shoulds." It is a very powerful lesson - one that I very happily share with my son Rio. Now, at age 5, he knows very well what a terrific person Alan Bell was, how important he was in his mommy's life and what a beautiful legacy he left to us all.

Best of luck with the garden.

Kate Jacoby

Avi Mermelstein -2007
Dear Alan’s family,
It's hard to say something in this kind of situation.  Silence is sometimes a better response.

However, I wanted to try in any case to express something about Alan.  He once wrote me in a scrapbook that I had been a good friend, probably better than he deserved. That really surprised me. Where would he get a crazy idea that he didn't deserve good friendship.  If anything, others including me couldn't reach his desire to give. He was a very caring person, extremely loyal, and friends were very important to him.

I still remember the first day he came to Murray Avenue in fifth grade in Mrs. Pasquini's homeroom. We became friends pretty fast, and stayed that way especially because over the years we were in many of the same classes together. I have to say that the laughs that we had together helped me get through high school. I remember the time we had to do a satire for Mrs. Schur's English class. Alan, Andy Hendler, and I pretended to be our classmates and our teacher, Mrs. Schur. We couldn't stop laughing the whole time.  I remember the arrangements for the prom that we planned together and graduation.   The times that we would play basketball in the driveway or went to the movies or worked on homework.

Alan loved to have opinions on sports and politics, music and entertainment. He loved to be involved in life. He loved the challenge of a good debate. I know he was a little limited physically because of his operation when he was a kid. I think that bothered him, but he didn't really let it show.  Unfortunately the high school environment emphasizes external physical qualities too much.  However, Alan found his avenues to succeed. He was a perfectionist in many things.  Whether it was his handwriting or notes to send to friends or solving a physics equation.  I think he wanted to make you guys proud.  He was driven but in a subtle way.  It was hard for him to deal with the pressure of being different, especially after his results in the SAT, but he dealt with it in a very humble way.  He volunteered in many different organizations in high school, and managed to have good relationships with so many people.

Alan was a very ethical person, very respectful.  Those kind of traits point back to the parents. He respected you and always worried about your well being.

The suddenness and seeming randomness of his sickness I'm sure took everyone by surprise. I received the information by email here in Israel.  I felt bad of course that I hadn't been in touch with him for a long time.  I saw him both times I came back from Israel this past year, once last winter and once this fall.  I remember him being more worried about you. He claimed that he couldn't really change what was happening to him, but you guys would be more affected.  I showed Alan, Grace, Gloria, and  Amanda pictures from my service in the Israeli army, and I remember him saying, "that's a way to get on the wall of fame at Lower Moreland."  This made me think that, in fact, Alan really wanted to do something in life where people would remember him. He wanted to be on the wall of fame.

The second time I saw him, I felt I bit more distance.  I didn't know how to interpret that.  I think he didn't want people to sympathize because of his sickness.  He didn't want people appearing out of the blue to help him unless they were going to be there with him.

I always respected Alan's honesty.
I am sorry again that I cannot be there with you.
May you find some comfort with time.

Matthew - 2007
Alan has had such an incredibly positive impact on my life. Thank you, to you and your family, for raising such a warm, smart, levelheaded, and funny person -- a wonderful friend -- and for providing him with a constant source of love and support (for which I know he was deeply grateful).

Abby Feinstein - 2007
Alan and I sat next to each other in Spanish every year and he always made me laugh! Alan was so smart and positive, he was really someone to look up to and I always enjoyed his company.

The world was a better place with him in it.

Kimberly (Irina's friend) - 2007
You should first know that yesterday's service was truly a celebration of an amazing life!!! I sat through that service marveling at the incredible son you raised. I've always known he was incredible simply because I think Irina is incredible--and having a very close sibling myself, I know that those core qualities of character and spirit are usually qualities that are intrinsic to the entire family unit. As suspected, yesterday's service was a full testament to that. As parents, I would imagine it brings tremendous pride to have your children embody such remarkable strength, character, brilliance, and passion. In many ways it becomes a reflection of who you both are as parents and the wonderful deposits you made into each of them along the way.

I was moved to tears yesterday even before the funeral service started, as I sat in front of many of Alan's friends and overheard their remarks about what an unforgettable person he was, how much they loved him, how much they are all going to miss him, and how they couldn't believe this happened to him. He clearly represented to them a force that was larger than life...and the slide show so beautifully depicted that! His personality came through picture after picture, which only reinforced my deepest regret of never having had an opportunity to get to know him before he got sick. Those pictures really helped capture the beautiful and loving person that he was. It became quite apparent how deeply loved and cherished he was to his friends and family, which also speaks volumes to what kind of person he must have been. It is not often that I feel that my life missed out by not crossing paths with another, but I can honestly say that's how I feel about not being able to have personally known Alan... I'm certain he would have made my life richer and brighter, and would have inspired me in so many ways!!!

I can't imagine the depth of your pain or's inconceivable. I only know that for Alan's short time on earth, he clearly made it a much better place to live. He fulfilled his life's philosophy and left a wonderful legacy for others to follow. It has made such a lasting impression on me! I hope that somehow you can find comfort in knowing that. Thank you for all that you did as a loving family to mold and shape such an amazing person. It was abundantly clear to everyone yesterday (as I'm sure it's always been to those who have known him) that he was exceptional in every way...

I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers. Please know that I'm here if there's anything at all that I could do to help you during such a terribly difficult loss.

My deepest love and sympathy~

Debbie Friedberg - 2007
Thank you for letting me know about Alan.  I recently moved to London and was devastated when I heard the news.  I've known Alan for so many years...since grade school.   It is hard to believe that someone so special, kind, talented, intelligent, and humorous is no longer with us.  My mother went to the funeral and told me about the touching words that were said and the wonderful slide show that was put together.  I hold such fond memories of Alan.

My thoughts are with you and your family.

Jackie Weinstein - 2007
I am truly sorry to hear of Alan's passing. He was a great person and a great friend. I feel privileged to have known him. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Kimberly Kanoff - 2007
Alan was an incredible person. To know him was to love him. He will certainly be missed, and never forgotten.

Wayne Cutler - 2007
Alan was a very positive spirit at Novantas.

Beatrice from Novantas - 2007
We always looked forward to seeing Alan. He brought a great energy.

Dana - 2007
I was fortunate to count Alan not only as a coworker but also as a confidant who was there to guide me when I arrived in Phoenix with more questions than answers about where my career should go. He gave me great advice over the years I have been at Novantas and brought so much laughter to even the most mundane tasks. The impression Alan left on my life is truly indelible.

Lindsay Wilner - 2007
Alan was an inspiration to everyone.

Uncle Michael - 2007
I didn’t get enough!

Shana Hardgrave - 2007
I know this must be an incredibly difficult time for you and your husband (as I write this I have tears in my eyes to think that Alan is no longer with us).  He had such heart, spirit and the most refreshing sense of humor which made everyone around him want more and more of him.  I don¹t know if Jason already told you, but we actually had a saying in our family - a popular phrase that came from Jason’s mouth was (I wish I was as funny as Alan).  We all know that Alan was brilliant and this was often displayed through his wittiness which was always lighthearted and insightful.  You raised a wonderful son who we are so happy to have known and we are delighted that his legacy will continue through the charity you are organizing in his name.

Very best wishes to you and your husband.

Sarah Welch - 2007
Just sitting here with tears streaming down my face after listening to your voicemail.  

I loved Alan to pieces.  He was a gift to me, a brilliant, ironic ray of light that made me a better person.  Even though he was so young, he was an old soul.  He taught me more than I could ever have taught him.

I was hoping for a miracle…that somehow he might beat the crazy odds stacked against him.  If anyone could have, it would have been him.  I can’t quite process the fact that he isn’t of this earth any more.  It isn’t fair.

One thing I promise you - I will remember him in thought and deed for the rest of my life.

I will try to insert at least one funny thought in all the Power Point documents I create and barring that will try to get in at least one brilliant thought.  Most importantly though, I will try in moments where people are being impossibly annoying or atrociously arrogant to be a sweet person with a generous spirit.  And if I fail at that (which let’s be honest, is more than likely) I will try to at least disarm with humor and keep a playful perspective about it all.  That was his greatest gift.

Gia Darigo - 2007

I went all through Lower Moreland with Alan as his classmate, bus buddy, homeroom pal and good friend through out high school. He was an amazing human being with an incredible sense of humor and such a positive outlook on life.

As many people have said, he was the life of the party and someone to always bring a smile on your face. I have vivid memories with Alan that I will always cherish along with the many photos I have (all with Alan making a silly face which he was infamous for!). Alan's legacy will definitely continue on through all his friends and family. My thoughts and prayers are always with the Bell family.

Preetam Rao - 2007

Alan was one of the most positive people I have ever met. He had a way of making everyone feel better - always a laugh, always a positive word. He is truly missed but his presence will always be with us.

Edward W. Jefferson - 2007

As a friend of his parents, I became acquainted with Alan and heard about all the wonderful things he had accomplished. One thing I recall about Alan was his ability, at such a young age, to fit-in with adults. The adults would be sitting around a table talking about topics that a young lad wouldn't normally be interested in. Alan however was not only interested but intelligent enough to hold a conversation about most of the topics under discussion. And he always acted as a mature, well-mannered, fine, outstanding gentleman.

We all look back and say things such as I wish I had said, done, gone, etc. In my case, I wish I had gotten to know Alan better. He was a blessing not only to his family and friends but to his community, the U.S. and the world as a whole. Although very brief, I thank God that he blessed us with Alan.