“Something just pulled me to Eureka College that day,” said George Hellmann of Richmond,
Ill., who is retired from repairing carillons and bell systems since 1957. When Hellmann got to campus May 9 and climbed the stairs to the second floor of Burgess Hall, he discovered that the college’s bell system had not been working for about three years.
“What a coincidence that I was in the Peoria area and decided to check in at Eureka,” said Hellmann, who last worked on the college bells a dozen years ago. “They were happy that I stopped in. They said they’d been looking for someone to repair the system.”
The five-note bell system now chimes the Westminster peal, the sound associated with a grandfather clock, followed by chimes denoting the top of the hour from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The college alma mater plays at 5 p.m., the end of the work day. The system also can play hymns, classical music and Christmas carols.
The Memorial Bells system was manufactured by Schulmerich Carillons in Sellersville, Pa., in the early 1980s. The four speakers are on the roof of Burgess Hall. The sound carries throughout the Eureka community.
The system was given to Eureka College in 1983 by the Dr. James Riley family in memory of daughter Barbara, who died that year.
“When the bells began ringing again, the college received positive comments from community members,” said Director of
the Physical Plant Rob McChesney. “Not only do the peals provide a reminder of the time of day, they echo that we are an academic community with close ties between the college and the town.”