Dean, Belle Aurill Clark, 1874
Died August 2, 1961
Belle Aurill Clark was born on June 21, 1874, in Williston, Vermont, where she attended a country school. She went to live with relatives in Hanover, New Hampshire, at the age of thirteen, to enable her to attend a good grammar school. She stayed for two years before returning to Vermont. She relocated to Michigan in 1891 with her mother, brother and sister and attended Albion College, graduating in 1897. The family chose Albion College in part because the University of Vermont accepted but did not encourage women as students. Belle’s mother felt that the Midwest offered more opportunities for women.
Belle married fellow student George Dean in August, 1896. They continued to live in Albion where he started out as a contractor and began a hardware store. He later became secretary-manager of the Union Steel Screen Company and advanced through the ranks to become its president. He became a prominent industrialist and civic leader. In addition to his business concerns, the couple also owned and operated a working dairy farm where they raised prize Guernsey cows.
Belle bore six children, three daughters and three sons. All of the Dean children attended Albion College. One son was later killed in World War II. While raising her family, Belle served several terms as a steward on the board of the First Methodist Church, was a member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, and belonged to the E.L.T. Club and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She also served as president of the local Delta Gamma Alumnae Group.
The family lived for many years in a house on East Erie Street, which they donated to Albion College to be used as a women’s annex. This structure was later renamed Dean Hall. They built a new residence at their dairy farm in Haven Hills. For many years it was the center of much social and community activity. After Belle’s death on August 2, 1961, the Haven Hills house was donated to Albion College and named Bellemont Manor in her honor.
Sources: Io Triumphe, September 1940;Albion Evening Recorder, August 3, 1961
From: Albion AAUW. Some Notable Women of the Albion Area. Albion, Michigan: American Association of University Women. 1998.