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"This is a tragic loss. Charlie Bell gave his all to McDonald's. Even during his hospitalization and chemotherapy, Charlie led this company with pride and determination," says Andrew J. McKenna, chairman of the Board of Directors. "Now he leaves a remarkable legacy —a legacy that the McDonald's system will benefit from for years to come. It began with his partnership with Jim Cantalupo and Jim Skinner to create a strategic Plan to Win. It continued with his intense and highly successful focus on the customer experience that all started in a McDonald's restaurant in Australia. And it ends with his courageous effort to live every day to the fullest. Charlie Bell loved McDonald's and McDonald's loved him."
"Charlie was an incredible leader," says Jim Skinner, CEO of McDonald's Corporation. "He was also my good friend. More than anything, Charlie was a role model for each of us—and we are better off, as individuals and as a system, because of him. No matter what cards life dealt, Charlie stayed centered on his love for his family and for McDonald's. And while no one can ever replace Charlie—his spirit will live on. As we mourn his passing, I ask you to keep Charlie's family in your hearts and prayers. And remember that in his abbreviated time on this earth, Charlie lived life to the fullest."
Fred Turner, former chairman and CEO, remembered Charlie by saying, "Charlie grew up with McDonald's. He always put the system first. His natural love of people, his energy and passion for life and the business were contagious to all who came in contact with him. McDonald's has lost a remarkable leader who made a difference."
Bell was elected McDonald's president and chief executive officer by the board of directors, effective April 19, 2004. Bell previously served as president and chief operating officer, and was responsible for the company's more than 30,000 restaurants in 119 countries, during which time he also became a director of the company.
Before his promotion to president and chief operating officer in December 2002, Bell served as president of McDonald's Europe, and was responsible for the company's 6,000 restaurants in this geographic sector. Prior to that, he was president of Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa Group.
He began his career at age 15 as a part-time crew member at the Kingsford restaurant in Sydney, Australia.
Bell progressed quickly through the ranks, becoming Australia's youngest store manager at age 19. He became a vice president at 27 and a member of the Australian board of directors by 29. Between 1983 and 1985, Bell spent two years working for the McDonald's Europe development company in Frankfurt, Germany, and worked with joint venture partners and developmental licensees in Sweden, Norway, Holland and Belgium in operations. He held the position of operations director and regional manager before being made vice president of marketing in 1990. In 1993, Bell was appointed managing director, McDonald's Australia.