GLEN ELLYN – To this day, Glenbard West High School football players continue a long-standing tradition to ring the school's victory bell following a win.
Now the 50-year-old bell is in need of some tender loving care, including a new stand. A shared gift from the classes of 1960 and 1966, the bell was presented to the school in April 1967.
"The bell means a lot to us," said 1966 Glenbard West graduate and class vice president Pete Konkle, who is involved in a campaign to raise $12,000 to restore the bell to its former glory. "That's why we're going to this effort. And it means a lot to the town."
He was a member of the graduating gift committee that presented the bell to the school.
"One of our class members, Tom Traber, he's done most of the work," Konkle said. "He's a mechanical engineer by profession, and Tom noticed that the bell was damaged at the stand holding it and was in need of repair. He started the ball rolling. He designed a new stand and contacted the bell company, Verdin Bells & Clocks, out of Cincinnati. I think the bell was cast in Holland, but the vendor here in America is Verdin."
Traber said he was inspired to repair the 350-pound bronze victory bell following the class of 1966's 50th reunion in October 2016.
"I was saddened that this personal symbol had deteriorated, mounted in its ugly rusting frame," Traber said in an email. "It was as though many of my own memories had become tarnished by the bell’s deterioration. I felt certain that I should try to do something to help prevent further damage to the bell; if the bell’s condition could be improved then my own memories would be enriched."
The fundraising campaign began in the middle of December. The project is estimated to cost $12,500, which includes the cost of shipping the bell to Cincinnati and refinishing and repairing the bell. That cost also includes a new stand, as well as a new foundation for the stand.
However, a Glen Ellyn resident who works for an international construction company is working on getting the stand made at cost, which would "save us about $3,000," Konkle said.
"And he's going to arrange the pickup and delivery of the bell, which is going to require some heavy equipment [to move]," he said. "So people are stepping up and helping take care of some of the logistics, which is great because I had no idea how we were going to get that done."
The fundraising campaign will end Jan. 31. Those who want to contribute should email Konkle at firstname.lastname@example.org for his mailing address and more information.
Checks should be made out to "Glenbard West Boosters." Konkle is collecting the checks. No checks will be cashed unless the fundraising goal is reached, he said.
Work on the bell will begin in the next few months, Konkle said.
"I can guarantee you that the bell will be back in use for next school year," he said. "I am confident that we will reach our fundraising goal."
How to help
To donate, email Pete Konkle at email@example.com for his mailing address and more information.