Meet the 'Bucks for Bells' Leaders

HaefeliWhen he joined the “Bucks for Bells” campaign, Joseph Haefeli worked in landscaping, designing commercial irrigation systems.

“This meant I had a lot of time on my hands in the winter when work died down,” says the designer of Gunter Hall’s current bell system. “I had worked on the bell system for St. Mary’s Church years before, hence my interest in the subject of bell simulation. So I was curious what [UNC’s] bell committee was considering for the new system and felt I could create a better system.”

Haefeli credits the “Bucks for Bells” project in part for his job with Greeley’s Union Colony Civic Center.

“That evolved into my 20-plus-year career at UNC, where I eventually ended up as director of technology for the College of Performing and Visual Arts.”

Recently retired, he relocated to Ithaca, N.Y., with his wife, Sara, now a music professor at Ithaca College.

“Cornell University is nearly across the street from our house, so while I don’t presently have any plans, it’s inevitable I’ll end up involved with one of those institutions, perhaps as a student this time.”

Haefeli describes himself as “congenitally incapable of just sitting around.”

“The potential in the convergence of technology and the arts is limitless, which is one reason I enjoyed the bell project so much,” says Haefeli. “My next project is a commission I’ve received for doing an animated river of light that will run through a restaurant in Seattle.”

KarreGary Karre (BA-66, MA-68) was the branch manager for PaineWebber when the bells project captured his attention in 1986. He remained with PaineWebber/UBS until 2010, when he became the branch manager for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, where he’s now responsible for expanding business in northern Colorado.

Karre first heard the chimes when his family moved from Burwell, Neb., in 1957. He lived on 18th Street, just 2.5-blocks from Gunter Hall. The chimes are among Karre’s first memories of Greeley. Hearing the bells today is nostalgic, he says, “kind of like comfort food.” After graduating from Greeley Central High School, Karre attended UNC and played in the summer Symphonic Winds Band under the direction of Wayman Walker. “The band would listen for Gunter’s eight chimes, and then the concert would begin. The chimes not only kept time, they were a measure of your experiences.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in music performance, he realized a childhood dream of becoming a band and orchestra director, a post he held at the Laboratory School, where he taught from 1969 until 1978. Karre first thought about becoming a band director in fifth grade, the same time he selected the clarinet as his principal instrument.

“My parents bought me a one-piece clarinet in a long black box — they paid $10 for it. I started practicing.” In seventh grade, the band director made him the first clarinetist of the high school band, although he sat next to another clarinetist, a high school senior and daughter of the school superintendent. Karre always thought that his band director must have had a lot of courage to do that.

ProctorRick Proctor (BA-73) worked at the UNC Facilities and Operations service desk during the “Bucks for Bells” campaign. In 1989, he transferred to the Graduate School, where he worked for 17 years.

“I was lucky to be able to retire after 29 years, half of my career at Facility Services and half at the grad school, and I’ve enjoyed five years of retirement.”

In November 2008, he began working part time for UNC’s Hispanic literary magazine, Confluencia.

“After I retired, an item high on my bucket list was to learn Spanish. I took all the courses available at Aims Community College.” He has also been a tutor for English as a second language programs.

In the fall of 1992, “the day after the big battle of Amendment 2, Colorado’s anti-gay ballot initiative,” Proctor says, “I was quoted on Page 3 of the Greeley Tribune. I came out as a gay man.” In early 1993, Proctor was featured in the Tribune’s annual Panorama, a special section profiling the people of Weld County. After the story was published, “I became something of an activist,” he says. “There wasn’t a ripple at the university,” he adds proudly.

“For a while, I was the go-to guy who would speak for the record, and I wrote several guest columns for the Tribune, although not recently.” Proctor has a partner in Denver. He says living apart isn’t “a big deal,” although they’re talking about moving in together. He is pleased to report that the UNC Board of Trustees recently adopted domestic partner benefits without controversy.

Grace Elizabeth Tidball (BA-54), credited by Proctor as the project’s “instigator,” died on July 7, 2005, at Centennial Health Care Center in Greeley. She graduated from Greeley Central High School in 1951 and attended Colorado State College of Education, now UNC.

Her connection to UNC continued after graduation as she continued the family tradition of renting to UNC students. Tidball’s obituary in the Greeley Tribune recognized her involvement with the “Bucks for Bells” campaign. “To me, the bells represent peace and serenity. Even on a cloudy day, when they ring, they bring the sunshine. At last we’ll have the sound of music again,” she said in a 1987 UNC news release.

“In another time, she would have been a community activist,” Karre says of Tidball. NV

Mary Sasaki

Download the ringtone of the chimes.



The Bells Stay With You
Under the maple tree on the old campus, it’s quiet.

I’m the old guy, who’s recently retired, sitting under the tree of his alma mater, on a summer day, right in front of Gunter Hall, and there’s something a little different.

Students are quiet as they walk on the old campus, under the huge old trees, past the flower gardens, students in sandals or sneakers. Some with bare feet on the summer grass.

If you go about a half-mile to the southwest, to what is known to some of us as the “new campus,” there’s more concrete and more glass and more noise. On the new campus, they have larger parking lots, and if you sit in front of Candelaria, you can hear the cars and the louder talking and the cars and people shouting and the cars and kids hurrying from one class to another.

What’s the difference?

I think it’s the chimes.

They’ve been there ringing from the tower at Gunter, off and on, for about 80 years. Every 15 minutes, plus the hourly chimes, from early morning until late at night, the chimes of Gunter ring across the old campus.

It’s some kind of anniversary for the chimes this year. Twenty-five years ago, a campaign called “Bucks for Bells” set out to raise enough donations to purchase a new system for the chimes after they’d been silent for a year.

It worked, and the bells have been ringing ever since.

For those who don’t know, there really aren’t any bells in the tower. The chimes you hear are electronics sent from a control box in Gray Hall. Even though they aren’t real, those chimes have an effect.

Sitting under the tree out front and watching, you’ll see the kids ignoring the bells. As they chime, almost every student entering or leaving the building is talking on a cell phone or texting.

We were probably the same way, before cell phones and iPads and twittering and tweeting and all the other electronic adventures of today.

Before the Electronic Age, we would also ignore the bells. We’d be reading or throwing a Frisbee around or talking to friends, or just plain hurrying to the next class/job/date.

At least we didn’t think we noticed. But years later, after you’ve graduated and moved away, and you’re neck-deep in the world of today, if you hear some chimes, Gunter will come back.

And you’ll remember the grass and maybe one of those old maple trees, where an old retired guy can sit in the shade on a summer day and listen to the chimes of Gunter.

— Mike Peters (BA-68) is a retired journalist.