Medina man leaves a legacy of love
Brian Bellan and wife Kim welcomed a large family
MEDINA – The community is mourning the death of Brian Bellan, a man who opened his heart and home to 12 children, including eight who were adopted.
Mr. Bellan was a civil engineer with state Department of Transportation. He and his wife Kim celebrated their 20th anniversary on Dec. 17.
He and his wife and nine of their children were having their final planning meeting on Monday for a mission trip to the Dominican Republican. Mr. and Mrs. Bellan were leading 21 people from Yates Baptist Church on the trip that was planned for most of this upcoming week.
Mr. Bellan felt sick during that meeting on Monday and was admitted early Tuesday morning at Medina Memorial Hospital. He was diagnosed with pancreatitis and seemed to be on the mend. But Mr. Bellan died on Wednesday morning from a massive heart attack, his wife said.
About 300 people attended his funeral on Saturday at Hartland Bible Church in Gasport, where the family attended before going to Yates Baptist about three years ago.
Several of Bellan’s children spoke at his funeral. The Bellan family is sharing those eulogies.
“My dad was the best. He loved and cared about everyone. Mainly he loved my mom. My dad loved us 12 kids. I was going to have a loving, caring dad who cared about me. My dad and I had a great father and daughter relationship.”- Daughter Karina, 15
Mr. Bellan, 51, moved around a lot as a kid. His father was in the Air Force. After graduating from high school in Ohio, Bellan went on to earn a civil engineering degree from Ohio State University. He was hired by the New York Department of Transportation in 1992, working out of Buffalo.
He didn’t know anyone locally at the time. He was attending a Wednesday night group for single young adults at The Chapel at Crosspoint in the Buffalo area. The group played volleyball and then had a Bible study.
Kim Brigham, a Medina native, attended the group. She was impressed by Bellan.
“The number one thing with him is he wasn’t just looking for a spouse like a lot of the other men there,” she said. “Brian was looking for friends. He gave Godly answers.”
Kim and Brian started dating and the first date lasted 12 hours. Bellan asked her a favorite childhood memory. She said flying kites on Salt Works Road, where she grew up. That first date the couple made a kite together and then flew it at Delaware Park in Buffalo.
The One I Called Dad
The one brought me from disaster to a safe place.
The one who called me his.
The one who truly I will dearly miss.
The one who taught me about God’s merciful grace,
To never stray, but to live your life for God each day.
The one who saw me through
My dad left a true hero, left a legacy behind
Son William, 16
Kim and Brian married and had their first child, Briana, 17 years ago. Twin sons, Kyson and Porter, were born 14 years ago and another daughter, EmmaLee followed 12 years ago.
Kim always wanted a big family. But she had high-risk pregnancies, which included a miscarriage, Briana’s twin sister.
At a Bible camp with her children, Kim met a 16-year-old who was a youth counselor for the children. The counselor had recently been adopted as a teen and was very thankful to finally be welcomed into a home.
Kim was thinking about adoption, but was geared towards adopting younger children, not teens. She prayed about it, and felt drawn to older kids in the foster care system.
She talked to her husband. He was worried about providing for a bigger family. But he, too, prayed about it. They both arrived at a peace, feeling drawn to reaching out to older children in foster care with a goal of adopting.
They reflected on the Bible verse from James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
The Bellans saw that verse as a commandment, not a request, to look after children without a permanent home.
Mr. Bellan believed the family’s needs would be taken care of, through God’s providence and some thriftiness on behalf of the family, his wife said.
Mr. Bellan was an expert handyman. He turned a garage at their home into a living room. He fixed many of their old vehicles, getting 200,000 miles or more out of them.
He repurposed furniture and seemed to find uses for all kids of things. He shared those talents with others in the community, helping single moms with home repair projects, his wife said.
He didn’t watch football or cable television. He wore the soles out of his shoes, and he always came home from work with lots of energy for his children.
“He did without everything that most earthly men would want so that I could be a stay-at-home mom,” his wife said. “He selflessly gave to others.”
Silent Strong Dad
He never looks for praises
He’s never one to boast
He just goes on quietly working
For those he loves the most
His dreams are seldom spoken
His wants are very few
And most of the time his worries will go unspoken too
He’s there a firm foundation
Through all of our storms of life
A sturdy hand to hold to
In times of stress and strife
A true friend we can turn to
When times are good or bad
One of our greatest blessings,
The man we call DAD!
Son Porter, 14
The Bellans have adopted children who came from abusive homes. They adopted three brothers so they could stay together and not be split up.
Mr. Bellan was a calm and steadying force as the children were welcomed into their new family.
“Brian was so laid back,” his wife said. “He could handle it. I told him with every kid we added he became a better daddy.”
The couple not only welcomed children into their home, they were youth leaders at Yates Baptist. They took children and adults on mission trips to Romania and the Dominican Republic. Mr. Bellan led a construction project at an orphanage in Romania and the family was part of bringing food and a Vacation Bible School-type program to poor children in the Dominican.
The Bellans wanted to become full-time missionaries to the Dominican in about five years.
The couple was popular as leaders for the youth at Yates Baptist, said the church pastor, Lyle Drake.
“He certainly was a good role model and example as a family man and youth worker,” Drake said. “The kids here all looked up to him.”
Mr. Bellan won over the teens with sincerity, Drake said.
“The sense of gentleness and humbleness went a long way,” Drake said. “He had a heart for people.”
“Something that wasn’t in my father’s obituary that I want you to take away from today is my father’s heart for God and for his family, and that he was a kind, loving man with a huge heart – so full of love that it burst.”
Daughter Briana, 17
Drake said Bellan was respected by the church and looked up to as an example as a father and husband.
“He showed that a man can have a really big heart, and that loving leaders have a sense of firmness and gentleness,” Drake said. “Brian possessed a firm trust in God. He not only walked the walk, but talked the talk.”
Mrs. Bellan has been flooded with testimonials about her husband’s goodness, including from his co-workers at the DOT.
“He loved numbers,” she said. “I can’t do math homework. That was his specialty.”
The Bellans have been active members of the Medina school community. Many of the their children are in the marching band, drama program, and compete on the swimming, soccer, track and cross country teams.
The Bellans were preparing to go for the second time to the Dominican Republic. The flight on Saturday was cancelled because of the weather. Mrs. Bellan and nine of her children will go on the trip, leaving on Tuesday for almost a week of ministry.
When her husband was sick in the hospital, he told his wife not to cancel the trip for the family and other church members.
“That was his heart’s desire,” Mrs. Bellan said, “to be in the mission field. Our mission field is here in our home.”
Mrs. Bellan said it will be difficult raising the children without her husband. She said his love and guidance gave their children, especially the adopted kids, a new direction in life.
“He wanted to break that cycle of dysfunction,” she said.
Her husband didn’t have any regrets about welcoming so many children into the family, his wife said.
“This has been our life’s dream,” she said. “These kids all got a daddy. He rescued them with the love of a heavenly father.”
“I know my dad was a man of great integrity. I believe that he finished the race strong no matter the obstacles that had come his way. So since he lived for Christ, his death was a gain. So don’t be sad that he is gone, rather rejoice because he is in a far off better place.” Son Bryce, 17
A Go Fund Me fund-raising account has been established to assist the Bellan family. Click here for more information.