Cupola bell ringer retires after 31 years


SUMMARY: Ron Payne ('83), better known as "Coop," has been ringing the bells of Wilson Hall for over 30 years. After a rewarding experience, Payne has decided to retire and the cupola bell ringer position is now vacant for the first time since 1985.

coop portrait
"This is an experience that has become a part of me, but it's time for me to retire and pass these hanging ropes to someone else" -Coop Payne ('83)

When Ron “Coop” Payne began ringing the bells of Wilson Hall, Dr. Ronald E. Carrier was the university’s president. Out of more than 100 applicants, Payne was selected to keep JMU’s campus on time. Secluded in the cozy cupola atop Wilson for 31 years, this once-anonymous individual has been doing just that.

A lot can change in 31 years and Coop’s view from the cupola has certainly followed suit. Looking toward Massanutten, a tall ISAT tower is now in view. In the opposite direction, bright lights from the Forbes Center catch his eye at night. After peering out the cupola windows for more than 30 years, Payne is still mesmerized by the beauty of campus from his unique perspective. 

Coop has become a master of keeping time. Though the steps of Wilson are steep, he admits to missing only one hourly chime in his career.  Lucky for Coop, only 3 students missed a 3:30 class on that day due to the missed chimes.

Many are unaware of Coop’s presence in the highest point of the Quad, but our mystery bell ringer often walks the same sidewalks, passing a smile and holding a door for any JMU friend. 

coop quote

With a grin on his face and a JMU cap on his head, Coop proudly retires from the bells, anxious to help select his successor. 

For the first time since 1985, the cupola bell ringer position is vacant. A search committee has been established and is accepting inquiries as of today. All friends of JMU who would like to serve campus as Coop did for so many years are encouraged to apply. Read more....

Applicants should keep the following qualifications in mind:

    • Must be comfortable going up and down stairs and ladders
    • Must be comfortable in small spaces
    • Must be comfortable with heights
    • Must own a watch
    • Must be familiar with military time
    • Experience with clock mechanics not required
    • Experience in music is preferred
    • Must have basic understanding of rhythm
    • Must know the JMU Fight Song and Alma Mater by heart
    • Disclaimer: Unexpected "hang outs" with Duke Dog will occur



If you have any remaining questions, please click the above job posting.


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Published: Thursday, March 31, 2016

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2018

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