By KEVIN ROBERTS
“If I can do it, so can you,” John Bello said. “But you have to do the work.”
Bello has worked hard and attained national success time and again, but the Plainville High Class of 1964 graduate has never forgotten where it all started.
Bello earned Eagle Scout status at the age of 12 in 1959. At the time, he was the youngest person ever to earn Eagle Scout.
At Plainville High, he played football alongside Hall of Famers John Mangan and Larry Amara. Bello was student council president and was inducted into the National Honor Society.
Long after he graduated, Bello remains a consistent behind the scenes supporter of sports and civic causes in Plainville. Bello has been willing to share the benefits of his success and experience, and he continues to be a genuine, caring and proud supporter of Plainville.
Bello established a Plainville scholarship in his parents’ names for high school graduates and has made it a point to attend the award ceremony to remind students to thank their parents, teachers and coaches for all of their support, love and attention. Bello has made personal donations, featured a local firefighter on energy drinks and entertained his former football coach, Charlie Palmer, and his entire family at Super Bowl XXIII in Miami.
Bello graduated from Tufts University, then went into the Navy. As a lieutenant, he volunteered for Vietnam and served supporting river boats in the dangerous Mekong Delta. He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V for meritorious service. In 1969, he married the former Nancy Nelson, whom he met at Tufts.
After the Navy, Bell earned his MBA and was an Edward Tuck Scholar at Dartmouth College. He worked at General Foods and PepsiCo in marketing roles, then joined NFL Properties, where he became president in 1986. During his 14 years, NFLP, the marketing and merchandising arm of the NFL, grew from $6 million in yearly revenue to over $3 billion in 1993.
In 1993, the Boy Scouts of America recognized Bello, but he used the night to recognize Frank Flanagan, his scoutmaster. Bello brought the entire Flanagan family to the event.
In 1995, Bello established the South Beach Beverage Company, better known as SoBE. Sales climbed to $275 million by the time the company was sold to PepsiCo. In 2001, Ernst and Young named Bello its national entrepreneur of the year in the consumer product category.
Bello supports Plainville through donations of NFL and SoBe merchandise, beverages, tickets, financial support and scholarships. He lives in Scottdale, Ariz., with his wife Nancy. They have three grown children; Lauren, Lindsay and John Michael. Bello is also a proud grandfather to four grandchildren.
Tickets are available for the Plainville Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet. It will be held on Saturday, Oct. 5 at Nuchie’s Restaurant, 164 Central St., Forestville. This year’s inductees are Harold “Curly” Bartley (Class of 1962); John Mangan (Class of 1964); RoseMarie Havelevitch Dugas (Class of 1975); Jesse Cavallaro (Class of 2004); and coach Phil Mannarino. John Bello will be honored with the distinguished service award.
Tickets are $50 per person or $450 for a table of 10 and are available at the Dental Offices of Dr. Rusty Camp, 359 Farmington Ave.; Angelo’s Modern Barber Shop, 61 East St.; People’s United Bank, 117 East St.; and Gnazzo Food Center, 73 East St. Tickets can also be purchased via PayPal or Venno.
A cash bar social hour opens the festivities at 5:30 p.m. Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m., followed immediately by the awards.
To sponsor the event or to advertise, contact Mike Bakaysa at (860) 573-8015 or Byron Treado at (860) 836-3377. More info about the hall of fame can be found at www.plainvillesports.com.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com