A commanding figure was removed from the affairs of Lake Charles yesterday in the death of J. A. Bel. His demise further diminished the small surviving group of pioneers who developed the great pine lumber industry of the southeast. In this group he has been a conspicuous leader and a narrative of his 46 year career in this industry would cover all the salient features of the history of pine lumber manufacturing in this section. The same biography would include practically all of the chief events in the life of this city and parish, for in that time Lake Charles has emerged from a little saw mill village, far removed from railroad facilities, to a modern city exceeding 20,000 population. In this growth Mr. Bel was a great factor at all times. Only those who know more intimately his business affairs can realize how effectively his great wealth was employed for the development of Lake Charles and its territory.
Beginning in the early days of the banking business when at a time of financial stress all over the nation he concentrated all of his funds in the home bank for the protection of home business enterprises, down to the present when we learn that his investments have all these years been exclusively placed at home with the exception of the war bonds of the nation and the bonds of our state; he took the part of the broad-minded and far-visioned man who took pleasure in using the earning of his own business to supply capital for the financing of all worthy projects of agriculture, merchandising and industry among his neighbors.
This is an example worthy of emulation for investors, large or small, are prone to see greater attractions in the industries and enterprises of faraway sections than in those of their own homes.
In the brief biography printed in The American Press yesterday, it is seen that Mr. Bel began work in the lumber business in Calcasieu at the age of fifteen, beginning at the bottom and conquering all the tedious processes of the industry. There was no job on the works that he could not fill. This should be inspiring knowledge to young men; that success is still to be gained by the mastering of the hard details of a business from the lowest step up, without capital and influence.
It is pleasant, too, to reflect that this wealthy man remained always true to the old fashioned virtues of love and loyalty to home, family and friends, and no matter what important business matters pressed for his attention, his first thought was always of his family, for whose care and happiness he was assiduously active to the last.