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Obituaries : Travers J. Bell, 46; Brokerage House Owner, Bradley Backer

February 07, 1988

Travers J. Bell, founder and owner of the only black-owned brokerage house in the New York Stock Exchange and the leader of Mayor Tom Bradley's national fund-raising drive when the mayor sought the California gubernatorial nomination in 1986, is dead of an apparent heart attack.

Bell was 46 when he died Jan. 25 at his home in Manhattan.

In 1971, with only $175,000, Bell formed Daniels & Bell Inc., a Wall Street securities firm. At his death the firm's net worth had passed $15 million, primarily through underwriting securities of minority-owned businesses, which at first were reluctant to deal with him.

As recently as 1976 he told The Times that the endowment funds of the nation's black colleges, which he estimated at $500 million, were out of his reach. From force of habit the schools placed their funds with white firms only, he complained.

The firm's co-founder, Willie E. Daniels, left the company in its early years to go into the restaurant business, but Bell went on to become chairman of the New York district of the Securities Industry Assn., Wall Street's chief lobbying group.

Bell was raised in public housing in Chicago, where his father worked in a brokerage office. The father got him a messenger's job, and after obtaining degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and the New York Institute of Finance, Bell rose to become vice president of Dempsey Tegler & Co.

As his own firm succeeded, Bell began to raise money for black political candidates throughout the country, including Bradley, Georgia state Sen. Julian Bond and Virginia Lt. Gov. Doug Wilder.

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