Old BoazMarch 23, 2015
The Victory Bell, located at the heart of Fairmont State University’s campus, has been an iconic symbol for nearly 75 years!
But today, few are aware of the bell’s significance.
- At chapel ceremonies sponsored by the Fairmont State Teachers College Lettermen’s Association (today the Fairmont State Athletic Association), the Victory Bell was presented to FSTC by the City of Fairmont on Oct. 1, 1940.
- And back then, the bell answered to a different name, “Old Boaz,” likely in honor of Boaz Fleming, the founding Father of Fairmont (1820).
- The bell, that once traveled on a oil barge that was decommissioned, was given to the school to promote school spirit. After every football game victory the school would ring the bell to honor their win.
- It was traditional for the men to tip their beanie caps and the ladies were to curtsy as they passed by the bell.
- But soon after “Old Boaz” took refuge at FSU, it was silenced to show respect and gratitude for the men who left “The Hill,” a nickname given to FSU, to fight in WWII.
- However, as tribute to the fallen soldiers, on May 8, 1945, the bell was commissioned to ring one last time.
- The official bell ringer was students’ favorite ‘Shorty’ Heim, a maintenance man. He rang the bell this last time with special thoughts. His son John was among those in the South Pacific.”
Since 1945, the bell’s tradition has been simpler, but it remains colorful. Various organizations and clubs on campus are allowed to paint the bell to promote school spirit, but like an old coat of paint, the history of the bell has faded and slowly become a distant memory.
“Old Boaz” continues to be a symbol that not only reminds us of our past, but the importance of traditions.
What other Marion County traditions would you like to share?