11/5/2009 - The Bell Yet Tolls
By Michael J. Brooks
Marion residents hear the familiar call of church bells at 9 a.m. and at 9:30 a.m. every Sunday. And one man, Arthur Moore, has been the bell ringer at Marion Presbyterian Church since 1954.
As a child, Moore began working with his parents, Arthur and Allie May Moore, when they served as custodians at Marion Presbyterian Church, and they assigned him the task of tolling the church bell. Arthur Moore became the church custodian after his parents retired from the job, and he's continued ringing the bell on Sundays.
"I remember at one time the church had me ringing the bell four times on Sunday mornings," Moore said. "Now I ring it twice. Someone else makes those decisions, not me!"
Moore has attained a good record in his years of bell ringing. He remembers missing one or two Sundays prior to 1985--the year stands out in his mind since that's the year his mother became disabled--and he missed two Sundays this year after having surgery.
Still, missing only three or four Sundays in 55 years has to be an admirable accomplishment.
A long-time Marion Presbyterian member, Burt Boatner, said someone else took over the job the two Sundays Moore was out this year.
"Arthur was raised in our church," she said. "I remember him as a little boy helping Allie May as she worked. Then he worked for Wilbourn Brothers downtown for many years, too. I don't know what we'd do without him."
Bill Wilbourn, retired owner of Wilbourn Brothers, now a Birmingham resident, fondly remembers his association with Moore.
"We called him 'Little Arthur' since his dad was Arthur, too," Wilbourn said. "We were raised together and he has always been like a brother to me."
Wilbourn called his dad a perfectionist who demanded the best from his family and his employees.
"Arthur worked in this atmosphere and he still wants things to be done right," he said.
The senior Wilbourn died in 1968 and Bill Wilbourn came back to run the store until it closed in 1985.
"Arthur was my right hand man as store owner," Wilbourn said. "He and I repaired appliances, installed antennas and whatever else needed to be done. Arthur is a jack-of-all-trades."
Wilbourn said after he decided to close the store, he called James Boozer, then president of Marion Bank and Trust, and asked him to give Arthur a job.
"James told me to send Arthur to him the day after I closed, and he's been at the bank ever since," Wilbourn said.
"Arthur is a wonderful man and totally trustworthy," Wilbourn said. "He's like a member of the family. In fact, I told him he's to be a pall bearer at my funeral."
Moore remains one of the busiest men in town doing odd jobs and lawn care between hours at his main job as maintenance superintendent at Marion Bank and Trust Company.
According to bank president, Conrad Taylor, Moore keeps the entire building and grounds in operation. He secures the building for employee's arrival and departure, assists with collections and repossessions and processes the mail. Additionally he assists elderly customers with their banking needs--those who are shut in, sick or unable to come into the bank for one reason or another.
"(Arthur) has always given 110 per cent of himself to Marion Bank and Trust Company," Taylor said. "He works tireless hours, never expecting special treatment. Arthur is always the first to arrive for work each day and the last to leave. We are truly blessed to have Arthur as part of our banking family."
Moore's wife, Alma, died three years ago. Together they raised five children and had three grandchildren.
* Article courtesy of the Judson College Public Relations Department.