Archive for Saturday, August 17, 1991


August 17, 1991


Keith and Joan Bunnel are making certain Kansas University's carillon bells ranging from 10 pounds to 7 tons peal "Crimson and the Blue" forever.

The Bunnels, Fox Chapel, Pa., have donated $425,000 to restore the musical instrument housed in the 120-foot high World War II Memorial Campanile.

Mr. Bunnel, retired vice chairman of American Standard Inc., was on the campus committee that planned the memorial in the late 1940s. It was dedicated in 1951.

The Bunnels grew up in Humboldt and were married two weeks after Mr. Bunnel graduated from KU in 1946.

"It's fair to say we've always had an affinity for the campanile and carillon," he said. "It is the campus landmark that people relate to."

The campanile is dedicated to 8,000 KU students, faculty and alumni who served in World War II. The names of 276 who died in the war are inscribed inside the campanile's base.

BUNNEL SAID the memorial is a reminder of the past and a challenge to future generations.

"It's important to campus life," he said.

After 40 years of use, carillon performances easily heard across the campus have become difficult because of the carillon's deteriorating condition.

Bells have thinned at contact points. Clappers have flattened. Bolts have rusted. Leather bushings have rotted. The playing mechanism has worn out.

Albert Gerken, university carillonneur since 1953, said he has been trying to raise renovation funds for years.

It's been a difficult task.

"I'm very grateful for the donation," he said. "It will enable us to restore the carillon and improve it from what it was originally."

In addition, a portion of the Bunnels' contribution will establish an endowed fund for future care and maintenance of the carillon. The goal is a $200,000 endowment.

"THERE HAS never been any money to maintain it in the past," Gerken said.

Mr. Bunnel said he and his wife were spurred to act after reading a story about the carillon's plight in a KU Alumni Association publication.

"The trigger was an article lamenting the fact that a carillonneurs' convention at KU had to be canceled. That struck us as terrible," he said.

The renovation will occur in three phases analysis and planning, parts fabrication, in-

stallation of new equipment.

I.T. Verdin Co., Cincinnati, has been hired to coordinate the renovation. Company representatives conducted a tone analysis this summer.

"We're going to rebuild most of what's there," Gerken said.

Allen Wiechert, university director of facilities planning, said the project should be finished by fall 1992.

THE CARILLON will have a new keyboard, clappers and playing mechanism. In addition, some bells will be relocated.

"We're going to put small bells at the top so they project better off the ceiling. Others will be moved down," he said.

There are 36 tons of bells in the carillon. The largest bell measures seven feet, two inches in diameter and five feet, nine inches in height.

The bells were made in Loughborough, England, by John Taylor & Co., a bell foundry company started in 1368.

The carillon has of a console containing large wooden batons, or keys, that are pushed down to play the bells.

The tone sequence runs through the chromatic scale, ranging 4 octaves.

Former KU Chancellor Deane Malott, who helped plan the memorial, wrote to the Bunnels and thanked them for being "great Jayhawkers."

"I KNOW in what esteem the university holds the two of you for your generosity and for thinking of doing something so essential to the future of the university and yet perhaps not of the greatest money-raising appeal," Malott wrote.

Letters of thanks also arrived from KU Chancellor Gene Budig, Thomas Gorton, emeritus dean of the School of Fine Arts, Gerken and others.

"I appreciate the letters, particularly Chancellor Malott's. I've been a great admirer of his for 50 years," Bunnel said.

"Our hope is that the carillon will continue to bring a sense of peace to all those who hear it over the years to come, and that they will remember those to whom it is dedicated," he added.

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