Man behind UT Tower's bells dies at 93

UT Tower bells player dies at 93

AUSTIN - The man who brought music to Longhorns' ears for decades from the University of Texas Tower has died at the age of 93, officials confirmed to KVUE Friday.

Up in the tower is a musical instrument consisting of 56 bronze bells called the Kniker Carillon. That instrument and the man behind it -- Tom Anderson -- were responsible for the bells that rang out across campus several times a week, playing tunes such as "Bridge Over Troubled Waters."

Students hustling to class may not have given his bells much thought.

"The bells? All I know is that a student group goes up and plays songs every once in a while," one student told KVUE for a profile on Anderson several years ago.

Actually, it was several times a week and students weren't behind the music at all.

Anderson started playing the Carillon in the tower when he was a student at UT. Over 45 years later, he was still in charge of playing the bells.

Watch KVUE's 2010 profile on Anderson:

KVUE's news partners at the Austin American Statesman said Anderson died Aug. 18 at Stonebriar Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in South Austin due to complications from Parkinson's disease and hip surgery. His memorial service will be held Sept. 18 at First Baptist Church.

One of Anderson's favorite parts of the job was selecting the music he played. And after several decades, he had a few stories to tell, including the time he used his bells in the 60s to stop a war protest on campus.

"There was some inflammatory speeches being made," Anderson told KVUE. "And so I played 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters.' As I played, people started singing and it wound up as sort of a song fest and everything got so calm and peaceful." 

His daily concerts lasted just 15 minutes at a time, but there's no doubt his melodies will have a lasting effect on UT.

"I've done my job," he once told KVUE. "And I've enjoyed it."


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