Harold Bell died peacefully surrounded by his children on May 26. He was 94.

He was the husband for over 68 years of his beloved wife and partner Bobby who died in 2017. They did just about everything together and were the love of each other’s lives.

Hank, as his friends called him, was the oldest child of Leonard and Rose Yaeger Bell, and the loving brother of Elizabeth (Betty). His father owned and operated a flower shop and his mother was a homemaker.

After graduating from Stuyvesant High School and City College of New York, he held several accounting jobs. In the early 1950s, he started his construction and investment career, successfully building single-family homes on Long Island and apartment houses in Yonkers, N.Y. He founded Modular Communities Inc., which imported and improved modular housing technology.

In the late 1960s, he was drawn to Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where he started the real estate development program. From 1968 to 2020, he taught development and entrepreneurship to thousands of students from around the world. For the past decade, former students returned to Columbia each year to honor him by bestowing an award in his name. At age 94, as an emeritus professor, he taught by Zoom during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hank’s teaching launched a new career focused on improving urban environments globally. He was twice selected by the National Academy of Sciences Research Advisory Board to chair the American delegation for exchange between the United States and the USSR. He represented the American Institute of Architecture in establishing a relationship with the Chinese Society of Architecture.

He was a fierce competitive sailor on Menemsha Pond in the 1960s and 1970s and then again with one of his granddaughters in the 1990s. He loved fishing and lobstering around the Vineyard from a succession of center console powerboats. His greatest lifelong friendships were largely formed on the Squibnocket, Stonewall and Lucy Vincent beaches, where for six decades they sat together and discussed the greatest events of the day. He and Bobby traveled extensively to visit family in Israel, Colombia, Argentina, the Balkans, Europe and China and they skied with their children in Vermont, Colorado and Switzerland.

Hank frequently dropped everything to drive in the middle of the night to help his children when he felt they needed assistance. He was blunt, never leaving anyone unsure of his thoughts or priorities, When he wanted people to leave his home in the evening, he re-entered the living room wearing his pajamas.

Hank is survived by his and Bobby’s children Lawrence and his wife Janet, Robin and her husband Thomas Kalb, and Leonard and his wife Linda; seven grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and his sister Elizabeth Gochman.

A funeral and interment were held at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center on May 30. A memorial service will be held in the fall.

Donations can be sent to the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center, P.O. Box 692, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.

For online tributes, visit chapmanfuneral.com.