Note: The following appears in the Wake Forest football gameday program.
The Bond Distinguished Athletes Award was created 10 years ago by Margaret Segars Bond (‘84) and her late husband, former Clemson golfer Steve Bond (‘80). The couple wanted to leave a legacy that would not only honor student-athlete alumni, but one that would also recognize them for success measured off the field of athletic competition. The Bonds wanted to give attention to those who have gone on to do great things in life after Clemson.
Each year, the award is symbolized by a customized gold ring, an engraved plaque prominently displayed at Nieri Student-Athlete Enrichment Center and gameday recognition at Memorial Stadium. In order to qualify for the award, recipients must have lettered in a sport and be more than 10 years removed from graduation. They have shown great character, citizenship and service to both Clemson and their community.
“Carrying Steve’s legacy and commitment to Clemson forward has been an incredible honor,” said Bond. “He would be proud to know that our vision from a decade ago has grown and continued to add value to the greater community of Clemson athletics and the university.”
This year’s award winner, Dr. Jimmy Bell, is a shining example of a Tiger who has gone on to become an incredible difference-maker in the lives of others.
“Jimmy is an outstanding representative of Clemson student-athlete alumni,” said Bond. “His exemplary service and selfless contributions to his community made him the perfect choice in celebrating the 10th anniversary of this award. I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to further recognize all he has accomplished throughout his lifetime.”
Bell was a pre-med student at Clemson and a scholarship recipient as a Tiger football student-athlete, graduating in 1965 and continuing his education at the Medical University of South Carolina to ultimately achieve a doctor of medicine degree.
Upon graduating, he completed an internship at Charlotte Memorial Hospital prior to entering the United States Air Force, where he served his country while also completing his family medicine training at the U.S. Air Force Pediatric Clinic.
While at Clemson, Bell was named an Academic All-American and served as class president during his sophomore and junior years, as well as student body president during his senior year. As a student, he received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Service Award and the Norris Medal. Years later, he received a second Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from Coker for his service to his community.
In 2020, Bell was a recipient of the highest honor Clemson University Alumni Association bestows upon former students, the Distinguished Service Award. He has served on the Clemson Alumni Council and Clemson University Board of Visitors while continuing to pay it forward to Tiger student-athletes as a lifelong IPTAY donor.
Throughout his career, Bell took on several leadership roles to serve the medical community, including chief of staff, chief of medicine and chairman of intensive care at Carolina Pines. He also served as a member of the hospital board.
Prior to working at Carolina Pines, he and a partner started a rural health clinic in the early 1980s and practiced there until 2002. His inspiration to practice medicine in Hartsville, S.C. stemmed from a lack of medical professionals in rural Southern communities. He received the Pioneer Award For Rural Health Service in South Carolina and holds the distinction of Physician-of-the-Year for rural medicine in the state.
Serving his community, he was on the Hartsville City Council for 10 years and a founding member of the local YMCA. He was instrumental in the founding of Heritage Community Bank and served as director of the Bank of Hartsville, Hartsville Community Bank and the advisory board of South Carolina Federal. He has been a Coker team physician, member of the Board of Trustees and is a recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian award presented by the governor of South Carolina.
As a member of First Baptist Church, he served as a deacon and participated in six mission trips to medical clinics in Trinidad. Additionally, he served as a member of the State Vocational Rehabilitation Board in District 6 and has been both president and board chairman for the South Carolina Academy of Family Medicine.
After retiring last year, Bell has enjoyed spending more time in Hartsville with his wife, Nancy. Together, they share three children, a son, James, who is deceased, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Andrea, both of whom live in Hartsville.
“I can’t believe it has been 10 years since this award was established,” added Bond. “The recipients and their families are amazing people. Dr. Jimmy Bell is the newest addition to this incredible circle of friends I’ve made over the years. He certainly has the qualities Steve and I set out to honor. Jimmy’s loving and giving nature to Clemson, his family and community make him a home run selection for the 2023 Bond Distinguished Athletes Award.”