In Memoriam: Michael Bellmore: Celebrating the life of a local legend

K. William Boyer
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE - Beloved former Devils Lake Journal Sports Reporter Michael H. “Mike” Bellmore died Friday, January 29, leaving behind a lifetime of writing and memories for the community of Devils Lake and Ramsey County.

Mike worked at the Devils Lake Journal as a Sports Writer and later as the Sports Editor following local sports and writing many articles on some great teams and athletes. A recipient of many awards for his writing, Mike knew the true meaning of community commitment to journalism.

In honor of Mike’s memory, family and friends have shared their memories of the beloved writer.

Craig Irwin was a friend of Bellmore’s for many years and shared this memory of him during his time as sports editor of the paper.

Mike Bellmore had an over 40 year career in journalism that included years as a sports reporter and sports editor with Devils Lake Journal.

Irwin said he played "sparingly" on the 1982 LRCC Men's Basketball Team that played in the NJCAA tourney and in the Hall of Fame and later coached at MSU-Bottineau (currently Dakota College) and NDSCS as the Head Men's Basketball Coach. 

“Mike was always great to me for years following my career,” he said. “I have family in the Lake Region and it was always a treat to go and sit with him and visit when my kids Wahpeton HS teams or my College teams played at the Sports Center. He was always there to greet me.  He always had time and had a great memory.  I looked forward to sitting in the middle of Duane Schwab and Boomer and you had a side ache from laughing after visiting.”

Irwin said  played "sparingly" on one of the best teams in school history at LRCC and Bellmore made me feel like a huge part. 

“He even did a story on some of us bench players during the season and how important we were to the team that year,” Irwin said.  “He loved people and sports, a great combination for success in his position.”

Another friend, Lynn Sabbe said he met the great sports enthusiast at the approximate age of eight when Bellmore was working for the summer baseball program in Breckenridge, MN.

“I always wandered over to the ball fields to watch the older kids play baseball,” Sabbe said. “This big guy was umpiring a game and trying to keep scorebook at the same time. In between innings he came over by me and said ‘I sure wish someone could do the book so I could umpire and give the kids some help.’  Being a bit cocky, I told him to show me how and I would do it for him. Well, he showed me how to keep score and I scored for the rest of the game. After the game he stopped me and said ‘Make sure you’re here tomorrow before the games start.’”

Sabbe said after that event he had a job every morning for the rest of the baseball season that summer. Recalling one of her fond memories about waking up late for a game, Steppe said Bellmore stopped the game when he arrived, gave her the scorebook and told her to, “be on time from now on.” He said following that she wasn’t late for baseball the remainder of the summer.

“The thing I always remember about Mike was that even though I was quite a bit younger, he always had time for me and an encouraging word,” he said.

Clair Prody, Bellmore’s brother in law, first met Mike in high school at Breckenridge,  MN. and said Bellmore already had a strong interest in following sports and, in addition to participating himself. 

“When Mike attended college at Moorhead State College, we roomed together his senior year, where he majored in Journalism,” Prody said. “ I recall in the spring of 1970, after his senior year, Mike was offered a job with the Devils Lake newspaper.  He was quite excited to receive and accept the offer.”

Prody said in 1976, the day after Christmas Bellmore attended the  The Minnesota Vikings playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams at Metropolitan Stadium. 

“Mike attended the game as a reporter and sat in the press box, where he met Sid Hartman,” he said. “It was a cold day, but that did not dampen Mike’s enthusiasm for attending the game, which the MN Vikings won and went onto the Super Bowl.  It was a long road trip for Mike, but he was excited to be at the game.”

Bellmore’s brother Steve said his brother was a man of few words, “but oh could he put in thoughts and views on paper.”

“He enjoyed his job and most of all putting stories together.I do have some stories of him and I that i will never forget,” Steve said. “He spent many years in the Devils Lake area and enjoyed them all. He made many friends and acquaintances along the way and he will be sorely missed.”

Bellmore’s sister Cathy said to her, her brother was like a gentle giant who was always very protective of her.

“He was the quietest of all my brothers,” she said.  “The other boys could be obnoxious at times and loud, but not Mike. He was so gentle.  He was always so thoughtful. I remember when he bought me a beautiful mothers ring one year for my birthday. I loved the times when he would come to Minneapolis to visit me. I have great memories of that.”

Cathy said when Bellmore was older and working for the journal he wrote many what she called “beautiful” stories about their parents, especially during the time when their mother was suffering through breast cancer. Cathy said those stories meant so much to them. 

“[Our parents] were so proud of him,” Cathy said. “We all were. I am so proud to call him my brother. I will miss him so much, but he is with our mother and twin brothers now. God bless his soul.”

Devils Lake Managing Editor K. William Boyer said that Bellmore was a true inspiration to all journalists in the field and he expressed his disappointment in never getting to meet and work with him.

“Sadly, I never had the privilege to meet this prolific writer,” Boyer said. “But in having the honor to go back into our archives and reading his work and speaking with the community, his former colleagues, and his friends and loved ones I have been given a small glimpse into this incredible man’s life.  And what a life he lived.”

Boyer said Bellmore’s name will be a lasting echo in the community that will never be forgotten. He said as new journalists continue to come into the field he hopes they will hear of Bellmore’s work and commitment to local journalism.  Boyer praised Bellmore’s commitment to ethical writing and said the community had a true “gem” in their midst. for years.

“Though Mr. Bellmore is no longer physically with us, he will never be truly gone,”  Boyer said. “His spirit and his legacy will live on forever.”

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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