Highland News Leader

Highland lays to rest its leader, police chief, and public safety director

The Collinsville Police Department Honor Guard leads the funeral procession of Highland Police Chief Terry Bell on Aug. 18 at Highland Cemetery.
The Collinsville Police Department Honor Guard leads the funeral procession of Highland Police Chief Terry Bell on Aug. 18 at Highland Cemetery. mbraa@bnd.com

Flags hung at half-staff and the sound of bagpipes resonated over the Highland City Cemetery as the town said goodbye to its leader and head of police on Saturday.

Chief Terry Bell passed away late on the night of Aug. 11 after an almost two-year battle with cancer. Bell served Highland as chief of police and public safety director for almost 10 years. Before starting with the city, Bell worked at the Collinsville Police Department for 21 years, where he finished as assistant chief.

Hundreds of attendees went to Highland Middle School on Saturday morning for Bell’s funeral service. Visitation and a public safety walk through were also hosted at the school on Friday evening.

The crowd was speckled with blue uniforms as law enforcement and first responders from all over Southern Illinois traveled to Highland for the ceremony. Bell’s casket was draped with an American flag, and his picture and chief’s hat stood nearby, as the Thin Blue Line hung behind the speakers podium.

The ceremony opened with the singing of “The Old Rugged Cross.” Bell’s closest friends and colleagues gave speeches. The service closed with a eulogy written by Bell’s daughter Jessica Bell.

After the service, a long public safety procession led Bell on his final patrol through town. The line of vehicles went down Polar Street to Broadway, at which point the procession parted ways so Bell’s body could travel past the Highland Police Department one last time.

Before the procession’s arrival at the Highland Cemetery, more emergency vehicles lined Koepfli Lane just before the entrance of the Highland Cemetery. Two firetrucks, one from the Highland Fire Department and the other from the Collinsville Fire Department, hoisted a large American flag over the cemetery’s entrance.

As a Highland squad car led the hearse under the flag, the Collinsville Police Department Honor Guard was waiting ahead to walk Bell to his final resting place.

Law enforcement and first responders stood at attention as a bagpiper played in the background while Bell’s coffin was carried to his grave. The American Legion Lee Iten Post 439 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5694 Colors and Honor Guard was present for a 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, and the flag presentation to Bell’s family.

Before the communal singing of “Amazing Grace,” a final message to Bell was amplified over the police radio, calling his watch in Highland to an end. The voice said that while he may be gone, Bell’s work insured that the Highland Police Department can protect the community during his eternal rest.

“We will take it from here,” the voice said.