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by Gail Watson

[Note: This article by Gail Watson, new Tower Captain at Sewanee, was submitted for publication in The Clapper at the request of the Guild officers. We are grateful to Gail for preparing this remembrance and extend sincere apologies to her, the Sewanee band and the Engsberg family for our regrettable oversight in failing to print it in the Summer 2011 issue.]

Paul Engsberg, the inspiration for the change-ringing bells at Sewanee has died. Former Associate Director of Admissions and University of the South Registrar, Paul died on July 6, 2011. He is survived by Betty, his wife of 50 years, his son Towson, and his wife Sarah, and his daughter Elizabeth, her husband Robert Meyer, and their son Robert.

Paul fell in love with change- ringing bells in England, where he became a ringer at the Durham Cathedral. He had gone to the University of Durham to help the Registrar there develop a record-keeping system. Installing bells at Sewanee became a passion with him, and when asked how to honor Paul by the Spencer Wrights, Tom Watson, then University Librarian, said that a set of change-ringing bells would be the best honor they could bestow. So the Bentley Bells, named in honor of Mrs. Wright’s parents and the grandchildren of the Wrights, were born. Cast by the White Chapel Foundry in London on July 4, 2003, the eight bells came into being and were shipped to Sewanee.

Paul was a very proper, even old-fashioned, person in many ways. He always wore a tie, even to mow the lawn and work in the bell tower. He preferred the traditional Rite 1 Episcopal service (always attending the early service on Sundays), and he was adamant, as Registrar, in using the proper names of persons in reports and on certificates. His meticulousness in record keeping and accuracy made him ideally suited for Registrar, as that position requires those traits when dealing with student grades. He was very much an Anglophile, loving all things British, including tea over coffee, and insisted on using the European style with dates and time; we practiced at 17:00, not 5:00 in the afternoon, which was also reflected in the minutes when Paul was Secretary/Treasurer of Emeritus. Paul took great pride in the beauty of the University campus, and you never saw him without a handful of litter he had picked up on his walks.

Besides his service to Sewanee in Admissions and as Registrar, Paul served his university and community in a variety of ways and was awarded the Distinguished Faculty/Staff Award by the Associated Alumni in 2006. He served as the faculty advisor to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity for twenty years. He also served as a Vestry member at Otey Parish Church and as a member of the Community Council. He kept score for the basketball team at their games for many, many years. He was the Superintendent of the University Cemetery and Keeper of the Seth Thomas Clock in Breslin Tower. He was a superb wood craftsman, always using his skills to create things, even necessary wood pieces for our bells. Perhaps his most valuable service to Sewanee was as correspondent with alumnae. He kept up with scores of former students, keeping them in contact with their University and the University with them. Two of those people were Elizabeth Wright and Jim King, who met at Sewanee and later married. Knowing that Paul would need something to do in his retirement, and in great appreciation of his continuing support of their family, the Wrights then honored Paul with change-ringing bells for Sewanee.

Paul’s burial liturgy was on Monday, July 11, 2011, at All Saints Chapel with the committal at the University cemetery. As is the custom in Sewanee, the congregation escorted the body to the cemetery, walking from the chapel to the cemetery. The Sewanee band, with the help of three ringers from Marietta, rang call changes for the procession to the cemetery.

Posted Sep 07, 2011


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