A Kansas man who postponed his planned retirement and bought a bank (as one does) because of a “revelation from God” is now bankrupt and $30 million in debt.
Donald H. Bell, Sr. was once a successful home builder and was preparing to retire at the age of 56. Instead, however, he made an unusual investment.
Bell and his wife, Faith, had built Don Bell Homes in Olathe into one of Johnson County’s most prolific builders in the 1990s and 2000s. From that base and driven by instructions from God, Bell bought Security Savings Bank. He also expanded into various real estate ventures that included building a string of Value Place extended stay hotels.
According to a 2004 brochure from Security Savings, the couple had considered retirement in 1988. He was 56 and established as a successful home builder.
Instead, according to the brochure, a “revelation from God instructed him to forgo retirement plans and to take a leap of faith by purchasing a bank.”
It was a leap of faith, indeed, but not all faith is good. Turns out God is no Warren Buffett.
Financial troubles began brewing inside Security Savings as early as 2006, and they surfaced in 2008.
And in October 2010, Security Savings Bank failed. Depositors were protected, but the FDIC said it expected to lose $82.2 million.
Bankruptcy records filed at the end of August show Donald Howard Bell Sr. and Faith Naomi Bell, his wife, owned a house in Olathe, two cars each more than a decade old, their Social Security, about $83,000 in retirement accounts and a “stray cat” that the couple declared along with clothing, jewelry and Seraphim Angels.
On the other side of the ledger stand debts exceeding $30 million. Among them are a $15 million obligation to Private Bank & Trust Co. in Kansas City and an $11.86 million obligation to GEM VP Lending in Chicago. The two large debts are each labeled “Value Place law-suit” in the bankruptcy filing.
God is a horrible financial planner. But I suppose Bell can always comfort himself by saying it’s all part of some greater divine plan.
Some divine, deeply indebted, plan.
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