I just learned from Jim Davila at Paleojudaica that Catherine Bell, one of the world's leading scholars in ritual studies and Chinese religions, died at the young age of 55 on May 23, 2008 after a long illness. I remember bumping into her at a party at the annual meeting of AAR/SBL in San Antonio a few years ago. She taught at Santa Clara and retired last year due to her illness. She is best known in religious studies for her 1992 book, "Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice," which in 1994 won the American Academy of Religion book award in History of Religions.
See a full obituary on the Santa Clara Religious Studies website here.