Rolf Bell: A Charitable Builder
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
BERKELEY — After getting an early start in construction, Rolf Bell left the field to pursue a more charitable vocation, which gave him a renewed perspective when he later returned to the trade. “I’m a third-generation builder,” he explains. “I started working with my father on weekends when I was 12 years old, and later I used my saw and hammer to pay for college. After graduating, I became a lead carpenter for a roofing crew, but I soon decided to switch gears and become a Lutheran minister. Through the ministry, I got involved with Habitat for Humanity, which allowed me to utilize my construction background for a charitable cause. I eventually returned to full-time construction work, but I’ve continued to stay involved with Habitat and use my skills to help those in need.”
Today, as owner of Green Living Builders LLC, Rolf says he enjoys the twofold character of his revamped career. “I like being able to do construction on different levels and for different causes. I still do charity work locally and abroad, but I also do a lot of high-end remodeling, which keeps me challenged and helps me stay on the cutting edge of technology. All in all, it’s a nice mix that keeps me fresh and excited.”
A resident of Berkeley, Rolf expresses his appreciation for its characteristic diversity. “I really enjoy the diversity of the people here—it makes for more interesting and engaging interactions than if it were a more homogenous culture. I also enjoy the variety of the architecture and building opportunities, which allows me to stay on the growth edge of my industry.”
Outside of work, Rolf engages in a variety of pastimes, both at home and abroad. “I’m really into traveling, which is one of the perks of doing charity work overseas,” he says. “Most of all, I enjoy unusual and exotic opportunities, whether swimming with whales in Tonga or watching bears catch salmon in British Columbia.” Locally, Rolf enjoys activities like skiing and hiking, as well as hanging out with his family. “My wife, Laura, and I have two grown daughters and two grandchildren, so we enjoy seeing them and doing things together.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Rolf says he’d expand his horizons of travel and experience. “As I mentioned, I love traveling and having authentic, intimate international experiences. The diversity of life on this planet is awe-inspiring to me, so I’d like to continue to see and experience as much as I can.”
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Kirala in Berkeley.
Q: What kinds of movies do you like?
A: Adventure movies and thought-provoking films like “Arrival.”
Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?
Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Global experiences.
Q: What’s the most death-defying feat you’ve ever attempted?
A: It’s a tie between bungee jumping in New Zealand and walking along the girders beneath the Golden Gate Bridge as a teenager.