For whom do the bells toll? In Appleton, Wisconsin, it’s for the parishioners of Zion Lutheran Church, and it’s thanks to the sturdy hands and generous heart of Gary Neumann.
Appearing far younger than his 80 years, Gary’s living proof that keeping busy on the things you love is a surefire path to a dip in the fountain of youth. He’s been volunteering his time in restorations to the church and claims his love for “rebuilding old things” has him returning day after day to ensure the glorious sounds remain a part of the historic landmark.
Built in 1902, the church has weathered its 120-year history of serving as a gathering place of worship for so many in the Appleton community, but time takes its toll, and when the four-faced clock and bell tower ceased to work, and the threat of a computerized system was imminent, Gary rolled up his sleeves and stepped up to his calling to repair the cherished chimes and antique clock, saving the church thousands of dollars in the process.
Gary teamed with his son to search for parts needed for the repairs, and by volunteering hundreds of hours over many months, he made the repairs for a cost to the church of less than $200.
This generous act enabled contributions to be earmarked toward the professional repair of a substantial leak in the church ceiling.
Bell towers and timekeepers aren’t the only precious aspects of the church that Gary had a hand in rescuing. When the organ pipes needed replacing, Gary drove from his home in Appleton to Elmira, New York, to secure the pipes from a church no longer in need of them.
His next project? Restoring the intricate stained glass in the structure—a complex undertaking that the Zion congregation has no doubt Gary will deliver on.
Now retired, Gary is thrilled to share his years of experience and excellent skillset as an electrical engineer with the historic landmark and those who have come to call it their spiritual home, proving once again that the best gifts are often received from the selfless act of giving.