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Eastern Arizona College dedicates the Memorial Bell Tower

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Eastern Arizona College dedicates the Memorial Bell Tower

By Todd Haynie

THATCHER, AZ—Over 1,000 people were in attendance as Eastern Arizona College President Mark Bryce dedicated the Memorial Bell Tower on the College’s Middle Campus on September 15. Participating in the program was Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Dr. Robbin MacDonald of the Shepherd of the Valley Presbyterian Church.

In addition to the speakers, the crowd heard the College’s A Cappella choir sing America the Beautiful, performances from the College’s band, and EAC student Zane Avalos play Scotland the Brave on the bagpipes. Members of the Arizona National Guard posted the colors to begin the ceremony as the Tower played the Star Spangled Banner.

The 76-foot Memorial Bell Tower stands at the intersection of the east-west and north-south campus mall and was designed to “architecturally and symbolically bring the campus and community together,” according to Bryce.

The Tower features programmable electronic bells and a lighted six-foot diameter clock face near the top.

The College dedicated the Tower after recently mounting sculpted bronze reliefs on each of the Tower’s four pillars. Sculpted by former EAC art instructor, the late Justin Fairbanks; his son, Daniel; and daughter, Alicia, each relief is dedicated to one of the four “pillars” of the campus community: veterans; pioneers; families; and faculty, alumni, benefactors, and taxpayers.

Justin Fairbanks, son of renowned sculptor Avard T. Fairbanks, was a noted sculptor whose major works include the Rainmaker at the Foxwoods in Connecticut, St. Gregory the Great on the façade of the Chapel of St. Gregory in Phoenix, and the Snowflake Monument in Snowflake, Arizona.

Like his father and grandfather, Daniel is an accomplished sculptor who also has a Ph.D. in genetics and is the Dean of Undergraduate Education at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Alicia studied sculpture with her father and was the chief assistant with her father on the Snowflake Monument.

The sculpted reliefs contain details anchoring the College back to the community. An example is a reference to the “Morenci 9” on the relief dedicated to veterans. This group of nine young men from Morenci enlisted in the Army and served in Vietnam. Of the nine who went, only three returned. This sacrifice gave Morenci the unfortunate distinction of having one of the highest per capita death rates of any place in America during the Vietnam War.

Bryce honored this group of young men, their families (many of whom were in attendance), and all veterans during his remarks. Answering the question of their sacrifice, Bryce said, “There is a cause. They gave their lives for something, something good and great and beautiful. We here in the Valley shall remember always and forever.”

Eyring spoke of the pioneers and families who struggled and sacrificed to build the College. “What distinguishes this institution—and gives me a sense of joy—is to think of the families and the communities that bound together to create something for those who would follow,” he said. “The sacrifice was not for themselves. It was for those whom they loved and it was to give them something better than they had had.”

Speaking directly to the students in attendance, Eyring shared words of encouragement about their future possibilities as they begin their education at EAC. Although his father became a noted scientist, he always described himself as a little boy from Pima, “yet always with a feeling of possibilities because of what had happened here,” he said.

Eyring’s father, Henry Eyring, was a graduate of the College, then known as Gila Academy, and later became an internationally-known scientist and scholar. ###