A concert 50 years in the making

Our friend, Francis Cudahy, must be smiling.

A dream of hearing the Mahanay Bell Tower being played with a full, four-octave set of bells was one we had talked about through the years. Now that dream is one giant step closer to becoming a reality.

Francis served unknowingly as a trustee when the will of Floyd Mahanay was read. These trustees received the responsibility to build the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower on Greene County property in downtown Jefferson.

The tower was based on one Floyd and Dora saw in Florida called the Bok Tower. Francis and the other trustees worked to make this happen to the specifications written up by Mr. Mahanay.

There are many who remember this huge structure being built in the center of town with an elevator inside. I sure wish I could have witnessed this in person.  

Throughout these 50 years, we have had many dedicated Bell Tower Foundation members — Elmer Eggiman, Bill Monroe, Carson Griffith and Sheryl Sloan, to name a few.

Trusted Bell Tower staff members such as Pat Richards, Bob Owens, Dennis Ford and countless college students loved sharing the experience with visitors while singing the praises of Greene County instead. They explained to visitors about our tower having 14 bells to play the Westminster chimes, but songs needed to be recordings because more bells were required to actually play most songs.  

Many other priorities in the community came first, such as a new elementary school, the Greene County Community Center and hospital renovations. The additional bells would need to wait.

Fifty years later, with conversation and cooperation among the Greene County board of supervisors, the Jefferson city council and the Bell Tower Community Foundation, a generous gift from Paul Nally and additional grants from Grow Greene County Gaming Corp. and Vision Iowa, we will finally hear the sweet sounds of the real bells being played.

As a teacher, I am excited to see how the students in our community can be given this unique opportunity to play a carillon.  

Other carillons have baton-type keyboards, but ours is very modern with a digital keyboard. Anyone with two years of piano experience could potentially have the opportunity to play the bells. I have already bribed my granddaughter, Nora, who has just completed one year of piano training and very aptly played in her first recital.  

I think of the number of wonderful pianists from our community who I would love to hear — Becky Greiner, Rhena Lane, Jasmine Mobley, Marty McGinn, Sheryl Sloan, David Kowalski, Shelby Sievers and Julia Bordenaro.

I’ll bet you can name eight more.

Can you imagine a Disney night, Lorie Line instrumentals, hits of the Eagles, love songs and polka music played for special concerts? How cool to hear the Ram Fight Song for each home game or a special song for someone’s birthday or anniversary?

This musical community will make these concerts happen.

I think the first concert I’d like to hear is Irish music dedicated to Francis.

Peg Raney is program director of Jefferson Matters: Main Street. Contact her at director@jeffersonmatters.org or 515-386-3585.

Contact Us

Jefferson Bee & Herald
Address: 200 N. Wilson St.
Jefferson, IA 50129

Phone:(515) 386-4161


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