Alaska statehood bell-ringer dies

Associated PressJanuary 29, 2012 

Romer Derr of Juneau rings a replica of the Liberty Bell outside the Federal Building in Juneau 49 times, signifying Alaska's joining the U.S. as the 49th state, July 1, 1958. Holding the Alaska flag, left background near bell, is Judy Findlay. Holding the U.S. flag is Marilee Nowacki.

ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVE 1958

JUNEAU -- Romer Derr, who rang the replica of the Liberty Bell in front of Alaska's state capital to commemorate statehood, has died. The Juneau resident was 75.

The Juneau Empire reported Derr died Thursday of a heart attack.

Derr was originally from Green Lane, Pa., and moved at age 20 to Fairbanks in 1956 during the time of the Constitutional Convention.

He moved to Juneau in 1957. After the 1958 Alaska Statehood Act was approved in Congress, Derr, head of the local Junior Chamber of Commerce, planned the ceremony to celebrate Alaska's entry as the 49th state.

Derr planned for a woman to ring the bell replica, but she couldn't miss work, so Derr rang it -- 49 times to represent Alaska.

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