The Bell Tower
Our Church on the Hill has been on “the hill” for close to fifty-nine years. The sanctuary construction started in 1962 with the first church service in December of the same year. A lot of “history” can accumulate in fifty-nine years. If you look around the church, you will notice plaques here and there in “dedication to” or “in memory of.”
Our bell tower in front of the sanctuary has a particular plaque that states:
In Memory Of
Donald Parker Huntly, Jr.
1940 - 1965
Ensign, U.S. Navy
Donald was the son of late church members, Donald and Naomi Huntley, and brother to Cheryl Huntley Berg, who still resides here in Auburn. Donald Jr. and Cheryl grew up in the First Congregational church when it was located on the corner of Broad and High Streets in Auburn.
Upon completion of four years at the University of Davis, Donald Jr. became a pilot in the U.S. Navy at the time of the Vietnam War. During a night landing exercise on an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego, Donald’s plane successfully landed on the carrier. The plane caught the tail hook and Donald signaled the deck crew for the release. For some unknown reason the plane disconnected and went over the side of the ship. The plane was lost at sea. Ensign Donald Huntley’s body was never found.
Donald’s father, with the help of Donald Jr.’s grandfather, Bill Paczoch, designed and constructed the bell tower in 1965 in memory of Donald Jr.
The beautiful bell we hear ringing every Sunday is the same 500-pound bell purchased in November, 1883, for the original church steeple.
Written by Bruce Quick, Church Historian