Kirkland bells to chime in memory of clock caretaker Paul Young

The late Paul Young standing by Kirkland Hall bell that was installed in 1906
Paul Young stands next to century-old Kirkland bell (Vanderbilt University)

The chimes of Kirkland Hall’s clock tower will ring five times on Dec. 21 in memory of Paul Wynn Young, who devoted more than 40 years to keeping Kirkland Hall’s signature clock and chimes in good working order. Young, a former Vanderbilt facilities manager, died on Nov. 21. He was 64 years old.

The chimes will ring at 12:46 p.m. for Young, who was employed by the university for 46 years.

“We will pay tribute to a dedicated employee at Vanderbilt, where one of his proudest achievements was taking care of the Kirkland clock tower and chimes,” said Mike Perez, associate vice chancellor and chief facilities officer. “And we invite all university employees to come to Alumni Lawn at that time to commemorate the moment in silence.”

Young, a Nashville native, was born on Sept. 24, 1957. After attending McGavock High School, he became a heating and air conditioning apprentice in 1972 at Peabody College, where his father was a carpenter. Young’s goal was to become an electrician.

After Peabody merged with Vanderbilt in 1979, Young’s job duties expanded to overseeing the operation of the Kirkland clock tower, which chimes hourly, 24/7. Young had to climb the tower’s 234 steps to oil the machinery and make repairs when needed. Before 2013, he also had to adjust the clock twice a year for the change back and forth with daylight saving time. However, that year the clock suddenly stopped, and repairs made by Verdin Bells & Clocks of Cincinnati included a new shaft, new machinery and rewiring that allowed the clock and chimes to run electronically.

Mark Petty, assistant vice chancellor for plant operations, noted that Young would personally ring the chimes on special occasions, including memorials for 9/11 and other national tragedies. “Paul fully embraced the importance of the Kirkland clock tower to Vanderbilt’s history and even provided occasional tours for those willing to climb all those steps,” Petty said. “Even when he was working in Rand or Sarratt or another building on campus, Paul would listen for the hourly chimes.”

In a 2016 interview with Vanderbilt Magazine, Young said, “After 40 years, I sort of feel that it’s mine and nobody should go up there without me. The clock tower is Vanderbilt, so to speak.”

Young’s survivors include his wife, Vicki Young, and two sons, Jason Young and Adam Young.

Read more on the history of the Kirkland clock tower.

Watch the video: Clock of Ages, Paul Young, caretaker of Kirkland’s clock tower.