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St. Paul's Lutheran Church to restore bell tower
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · March 16th, 2017

The St. Paul's Lutheran Church bell tolled 105 times at the funeral of OraLee Grabau before she was laid to rest in Cedar Memorial on July 22, 2016. The bell (cast in Holland) rang once for each year of her life. OraLee Grabau, 105, passed away on July 22, 2016. She was born in Boone, Iowa, and married Leonard in 1934. She was a Simpson College graduate and taught at Linn-Mar until retiring in 1976. She also taught Sunday school for 40 years. In addition, she started the church's Lutheran Women Missionary League. Her son and grandchildren are still congregation members.

OraLee donated the bell to the church in 1978 in honor of her husband, Leonard Grabau, who had previously passed away. The inscription on the bell reads, "To the glory of God and St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Marion, Iowa 1978."

The 407-pound bronze bell was removed from atop the bell tower on Friday, March 10, at 7 a.m. It will be taken by van to the Verdin Bell Co. in Cincinnati this Thursday for complete restoration. The process of shining, polishing, and ultra-sounding it to check for cracks will take a few months at a cost of $10,000, said St. Paul's Administrative Assistant Carmen O'Brien. The following inscription will also be placed on the bell in Ohio: "Remembering Leonard, NormaJean, Zane, and OraLee Grabau who have joined our heavenly Father since this bell first rang. May its chimes continue to praise His glory."

The main purpose for the bell's removal is so a new bell tower can be built to replace the current one which has cracks in the mortar from shifting winds. (It is being taken down by general contractor, Woodruff Construction.) The new tower will be made of a brick and limestone combination, O'Brien said, and will have a large opening where the bell can clearly be seen by the public. The cost for the new bell tower is approximately $195,000. The bell is connected to an electronic system along with the church's Carillon System which can play music.
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