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Agency Fund Spotlight: La Crosse Dubna Friendship Association David Bell Memorial Fund

August 20, 2021

Katie Berkedal, Program DirectorBy Katie Berkedal, Program Director

Agency Fund Spotlight – La Crosse Dubna Friendship Association David Bell Memorial Fund

The La Crosse Dubna Friendship Association David Bell Memorial Fund was established in 2020 to provide annual support to the La Crosse Dubna Friendship Association. The fund name honors the integral role David Bell played as the leader in Russia promoting the sister city relationship with La Crosse; one the New York Times reported as Russia’s best.

About David Bell

David Bell was born in Texas in 1921, and lived there until he was 10 when his father, inspired by the Russian revolution, moved the family to Russia. When Stalin came into power, his father was exiled to the Kazakhstan desert and the family was put on the street because they were Jewish.

As an adult, David became an English teacher and moved to Dubna, located at the confluence of three rivers about 70 miles north of Moscow.

Starting the La Crosse-Dubna Sister City relationship

In the late 80s, David heard of a peace lantern project in Leningrad led by physicians from La Crosse. David explored more connections to La Crosse, including a correspondence with former Mayor Patrick Zielke, and suggested a sister city relationship. A group in La Crosse formed that led the effort here. The relationship between the two cities was formalized with protocols signed on August 5, 1990.

A sister city success story

The success of the La Crosse Dubna sister city relationship is evidenced by the breadth of the exchanges and numerous accomplishments, that include: various exchanges of scouts, high school and college students, and professionals; the creation of University of Dubna; the establishment of the first Rotary Club in Dubna (and one of the first in Russia); and, the introduction of the notion of voluntary service to Dubna. Robust medical exchanges resulted in several millions of dollars of US grants to Dubna that pioneered work in women’s health, alcohol treatment, hospital management, and a diabetes protocol that was adopted all throughout Russia. The Russian garden in the Riverside International Friendship Gardens honors this special relationship.

About the La Crosse Dubna Friendship Association David Bell Memorial Fund

The intent of this agency fund is to honor David Bell and the joint vision shared between the cities; promoting peace through understanding. The fund will be used to support the broad purposes of the sister city relationship.