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St. Raphael’s ringing in new year with iron bell

January 29, 2020
By NATHAN MAYBERG ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

If you live around Williams Street you may have heard the sound of a bell Sunday mornings over the past month. It is the sound made from a 50-pound cast iron bell that is more than 100 years old and which was donated by the Heyd family to St. Raphael's Episcopal Church.

The bell is rung each Sunday five minutes before the Rev. John Adler leads his congregation in its service and again at 10 a.m. right before they begin.

The bell has been donated to St. Raphael's by congregation members Peter and Delores Heyd. Woody Hahn, the father of Delores, bought it in the early 1960s. It was mounted in front of Woody's family home in northwestern North Carolina overlooking the Blue Ridge Parkway for almost 60 years and rung on special occasions. Peter said that Woody had a mountain cabin in the valley and bought the bell from a store in North Carolina.

Article Photos

Delores Heyd (left to right), the Rev. John Adler and Peter Heyd stand in front of a cast iron bell believed to be more than 100 years old outside the St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church on Williams Street. Mr. and Mrs. Heyd donated the bell to the church, where it is rung every Sunday before services.


"He was an outdoors person and one with nature," Mrs. Heyd said.

Heyd eventually passed on the bell to Peter and Delores who kept it at their North Carolina home until now.

"We rang it for special occasions like the birth of a grandchild or when Carolina won a national championship," Mr. Heyd said.

He has kept a coat of black paint on it and has mounted it on plywood and bolted. Its condition is "as good as a cast iron bell that has been out in the weather for 100 years," he said.

"We're just so happy we have a home now where it will be for a long, long time."

Mrs. Heyd is a retired piano teacher and Mr. Heyd is retired from a career in computers. They split their time between Fort Myers Beach and North Carolina. Their son Matt is an Episcopalian minister in New York City.

"I'm delighted to have this bell," Adler said. "It's a cute thing. We've started a new tradition."



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