Harrison County

Former Long Beach police chief Ken Pell, who ‘loved everybody,’ has died

Ken Pell, taken in 1979 when the Long Beach Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to name him the city’s police chief, effective Jan. 1, 1980.
Ken Pell, taken in 1979 when the Long Beach Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to name him the city’s police chief, effective Jan. 1, 1980.

Ken Pell brought his love of laughter and people to the city’s police department during the years he served as police chief.

The lifelong Long Beach resident died Saturday at age 71.

He led the police department from 1980 until his retirement in 1991, and before that he was a firefighter. In total, he devoted 26 years to law enforcement.

“He was serious when he needed to be on the job, but he had a great sense of humor and loved everybody,” Mayor George Bass said. “He had a great love of life and he stood out and did the right thing. He was just a good guy.”

Bass, the city’s former fire chief, and Pell enjoyed a long-term friendship. Bass was a firefighter when Pell was the police chief.

Pell was quick to find humor in just about any situation.

Bass recalled a time that he and Pell were chopping wood while one of their children slept in the bed of a pickup truck. Pell was resting his arm on the truck’s tool box about the time the child stood up at the tool box and began to urinate, not realizing Pell was directly in front of him.

“Ken just laughed and said, ‘Well, if you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.’ That may not be fit to print, but it shows he could find humor in anything.” Bass said.

Pell worked his way up the ranks while the city experienced a population boom, more than doubling its number of residents. The city grew from 6,170 residents in 1970 to a population of 14,199 in 1980, U.S. Census numbers show.

Pell was married to longtime City Clerk Becky Schruff. His family was well known in the city; in fact, a city hall annex had been named for his mother, Jeritza Pell; Hurricane Katrina destroyed it in 2005.

In addition to Pell’s wife, survivors include three daughters, two sons, eight grandchildren, one great-grandchild and his brother.

A visitation is set for 10-11 a.m. Saturday at the Long Beach Presbyterian Church on East Second Street. A memorial service will follow.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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