Ringing in the New Year

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Gerry Clare
Roving Reporter

January 12, 2017 1:15 p.m.

Listen to the ringing of the bells at 9 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. daily and for church services on Sundays at the Amelia Island Plantation Chapel, thanks to a local bequest. Newcomers to the Island in 2004, Rene and Bill Childress retired and moved here from Alpharetta, Georgia, to be near their nephew, Joe Gerrity.

From Left to Right, Pastor Schroder, Joe, Carrie and David Gerrity and Shea Odom in front of the Chapel

Rene was raised on a farm with 3 siblings in Newton Ransome, Pennsylvania and Bill came from Montana. Bill was an outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman, and an engineer who built some of the world’s largest roller coasters in Japan, Brazil, Ohio and Texas. He also designed the front windows of the Kennedy Center in Boston Harbor. Rene travelled with him at times but was involved in doing feasibility studies for commercial real estate developments (one in Orange Park) as well as being a watercolorist and craft person and supported the local Council on Aging. Having known her personally, I can also say she was stylish, smart and witty, an accomplished lady.

When they passed, Bill and Rene left a generous donation to the Amelia Island Plantation Chapel for a bell tower. On January 8th of this year, Pastor Ted Schroder dedicated the carillon at the church service with their family members attending.

Note: I usually write about “Meet Your Neighbors” who are still with us, but this seemed like such a special story of people who move here and contribute to the local community that I had to ring the bell for the new year.

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Gerry Clare.jpg 2Editor’s Note: Gerry began free lance writing for fun and is the author of a published book (available on Amazon and at Books Plus) about funny real estate experiences. Gerry is a longtime member of our local American Business Women’s Chapter, a volunteer cancer driver and church deacon who loves to read, travel and meet interesting people.

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One Response to Ringing in the New Year

  1. Maggie Gerrity Felton says:

    I am so happy to see my Aunt Rene and Uncle Bills contribution appreciated. The Amelia Chapel was an important part of both Rene and Bill’s life.
    I am so sorry I was not able to be there for the dedication with my brothers, but I was there in spirit.

    Maggie Gerry Felton
    West Chester, PA 19380

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